Can I Still Run if I Have Stress Fractures?

Stress fractures are an agonizing injury for runners. It’s not so much the symptoms per se as it is the temptation. If the injury had been, say, a bad ankle sprain, there’d be no question about staying off your feet. You couldn’t run if you wanted to. But stress fractures? I’ll just push through the pain, you might think to yourself. I’ll just go one mile instead of five.

Well, we have some bad news for you. If you’ve been diagnosed with stress fractures, you really need to put the brakes on running—completely—until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. Not “I’ll just run every other day.” Not “I’ll only run for 20 minutes.” Not “My doctor hasn’t given me the okay yet, but I feel good today so I must be in the clear.” Trust us on this one: while a 6-8 week pause in your routine isn’t much fun for anyone, it’s far better than the alternative.

You see, in the vast majority of cases, treatment for stress fractures requires only two components: rest and time. As tiny, hairline fractures in the surface of bone, there’s really not much that can be done for them besides letting them heal on their own, without you getting in the way.

Going out for a run, unfortunately, can interrupt and even reverse the healing that’s already taken place. This could happen even if you no longer feel pain from your stress fractures, since symptoms may disappear before the bones have fully healed. In the best-case scenario, you end up turning a condition with a 2-month fix into one that stretches on and on and on. In the worst case, the stress fractures deepen and widen, creating a much bigger problem that may ultimately cause a full break.

It’s hard to give up something you love, even temporarily. But trust us—taking care of your stress fractures now, and allowing your feet the time they need to fully heal, will mean much less pain and struggle in the long run. (No pun intended.) In the meantime, keep up your fitness with low-impact cardio that won’t hurt your feet, like swimming or cycling!

If chronic foot pain is stopping you from running as far or as long as you’d like, give Premier Podiatry Group in Ebensburg, PA a call today. You can reach us at (814) 472-2660.