As the name implies, a stress fracture in your foot occurs when your foot is overstressed and a bone in the area can no longer sufficiently displace this pressure, leading to a break. Excessive pressure in an isolated area of your foot is the most common cause of a stress fracture, but there are a number of other factors that contribute to a stress fracture. We highlight these contributing factors in today’s blog so you can help protect your feet from stress fractures.
Factors That Contribute To Foot Stress Fractures
Here’s a look at some oftentimes overlooked factors that could be putting you at an increased risk for a stress fracture of the foot.
1. Vitamin Deficiency – Vitamin D is crucial for helping your body build strong bones, but not everyone gets enough of the vitamin throughout the day. Your body creates Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun, so it’s not surprising to learn that Minnesotans and others who live in cold weather places oftentimes fail to get enough Vitamin D during the winter months. Sun exposure and a healthy diet can help increase your Vitamin D intake, as can supplements.
2. Poor Form – If you have poor form during exercise or activity, you could be channeling more stress through your feet than need be. If your running form leads to a heavier forefoot-strike technique, you could overload your metatarsals. Similarly, if you have a pinched nerve or a bunion, these conditions could alter your normal gait and lead to more pressure being exerted on an area of your foot that isn’t equipped to handle this new stress.
3. Your Footwear – Interestingly, adding a running shoe that has more padding on the bottom to your workout routine isn’t guaranteed to protect your foot from stress fractures. In fact, it could be the opposite. Studies have shown that runners with less padding in their shoes tend to land lighter and have a reduced impact force when running compared to those who have more thickness on the bottom of their running shoe. Extra padding may give a sense of protection that leads us to land more harshly with every stride. Whatever level of padding you’re choosing for your shoes, make sure you’re still working to land lightly on your feet to avoid excess stress.
4. Too Much Of A Good Thing – While a stress fracture occurs during a precise moment of overloaded stress, oftentimes this moment is preceded by a weakening of the area through over-conditioning. We’ve treated individuals who have had stress fractures as a result of a fluke injury like falling off a ladder, but the more common scenario is the runner who is training for a marathon or the athlete who didn’t take time to rest during their offseason. Too much training or ramping up your workout load too quickly is another key factor in stress fracture onset. Slowly build up your distance, and give your body a break from the same actions to avoid increasing your risk of a stress fracture.