Over training happens. You love what you do. You do it too much. Your body starts to break down. Your bones begin to crack. An over use injury you definitely want to avoid is a stress fracture.
Common in professional sports that intensely work the lower body like running and basketball — hoops star Yao Ming has been suffering from one in his foot for two years now and marathoner Paula Radcliffe has battled one in her femur.
A fracture, aka broken bone, is caused by a sudden trauma like a fall. A stress fracture occurs when a bone can't hold up against repeated stress overtime. Cells known as osteoblasts make bones and attempt to keep the bone strong and rebuild them while under strain, while osteoclasts are cells that remove damaged bone tissue. The repeated stress weakens the bones, and ultimately the osteoclast cells win creating a microscopic fracture on the surface of the bone. This small crack can create lots of pain. X-rays usually cannot detect the fracture, but an MRI or bone scan if deemed necessary can diagnose a stress fracture. Often a stress fracture can be diagnosed based on your history, since over use injuries often run a specific course.
Learn how to avoid a stress fracture.
In general, stress fractures take between 8 to 12 weeks to heal for a healthy, non-smoking individual. The best way to avoid a stress fracture is to increase the amount you run gradually — remember the 10 percent rule. You need to give your bones time to acclimate to the stress you're putting on them, so the osteoblasts can win the battle. Also, make sure you are taking an adequate amount of vitamin D with your calcium, since it aids in absorbing calcium and building bones. If you have persistent pain in your feet, shins, thigh, or pelvis make an appointment with your doc to have it checked out.
Have you ever had a stress fracture?