If you participate in high-impact sports such as basketball, tennis or running, there is a risk of developing a stress fracture to the foot or ankle. Basically, a stress fracture occurs when stress is placed on the foot and ankle, especially without taking proper precautions to prevent injury. Adolescents who are still growing and haven't developed bone strength may be particularly at risk, as are those with decreased bone density, such as menopausal women. Follow these 5 tips pertaining to sports-related podiatric stress fractures:
1. Choose Footwear Best Suited to Your Foot Type
Choosing footwear designed for the sport you are playing may not be sufficient to prevent a foot and ankle stress fracture. You may need to wear shoes designed for your foot type. For instance, individuals with low arches need extra support beneath the arch area. Internal wedges in the shoe may also absorb the shock your low arches are subject to as you bear weight on the foot. Conversely, if you have a high arch, that extra support may not be needed.
2. Support Better Bone Health With the Following Choices
A calcium fortified diet will strengthen your bones and help prevent stress fractures, especially in menopausal women or growing teenagers. However, some individuals cannot tolerate calcium-rich dairy products due to a lactose intolerance. Fortunately, there are other ways to get your daily intake of calcium. Here are some calcium-rich foods to incorporate into your diet:
Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables: Choose collard greens, kale or spinach, all of which have decent amounts of calcium. Broccoli rabe is another good choice.
Canned Salmon: Canned salmon will have edible bones, which should be consumed for extra nutritional benefits, primarily calcium.
Dried Figs: Did you know that just one cup of this delicious fruit contains 241 milligrams of calcium? You can eat them by the handful or try adding figs to fruit salads and desserts.
Orange Juice: You might not be aware that orange juice also contains calcium, and some prepackaged varieties are fortified with this extra mineral.
3. Try Cross-Training to Build Strength and Condition Yourself
If you are just beginning to participate in sports, you might want to cross train to condition your muscles and joints. Cross training simply refers playing different types of sports-related activities, so you will become accustomed to moving various muscles and joints. This may help prevent stress fractures in the future.
4. Recognize the Signs of a Stress Fracture of the Foot or Ankle
If you experience a stress fracture of your foot or ankle, you may develop extreme bruising or a small tear or hairline crack of the bone, with or without swelling. Be on the lookout for symptoms such as pain which worsens when walking or moving the affected foot and ankle. Tenderness and soreness may occur when you put your shoes on or when you apply pressure to the area.
5. Seek Treatment from a Podiatric Sports Doctor
Unlike other doctors who treat various types of sports injuries, a podiatric sports doctor is experienced in sports related injuries to the foot and ankle. If you suspect you have stress fractures of the foot, the specialist may examine your foot, take x-rays and ask questions pertaining to your lifestyle and participation in sports. After doing so, your sports podiatrist may devise a treatment plan customized for your needs.
Typically, treatment of stress fractures to the foot include an ice pack applied immediately following an injury, and rest of the affected foot. Your doctor may also advise you to elevate the injured foot above heart level to reduce swelling and relieve pain. A compression bandage may also be used to support the foot as it heals and to prevent further swelling.
In addition to the above mentioned measures, you might want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Ibuprofen is a good choice, as this is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. If you have a sensitive stomach, consult with your physician before using anti-inflammatory drugs as these may cause gastrointestinal issues in some individuals.