Avoid stress fractures

Published May 10, 2012 at 05:00AM

Stress fractures, a common overuse injury of the foot and ankle, come from repetitive forces that damage the bones in the foot. They are common with runners, competitive dancers and other athletes. Pain symptoms may occur suddenly or can build slowly over time. Swelling in the foot or lower leg is also common, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot&Ankle Society.

Treatments usually consist of changing activities and using a stiff-soled shoe for up to two weeks during healing. Sometimes casts or crutches are needed.

To try to prevent stress fractures in the foot and ankle:

• Select appropriate footwear for the specific type of exercise.

• Start slowly when beginning or renewing an exercise program.

• Walk and stretch to warm up before running or dancing.

• Stretch and strengthen calf muscles.

• Increase running or walking distance and speed gradually, in increments no greater than 10 percent per week.

• Avoid unaccustomed strenuous sprinting.

For more information, visit www.footcaremd.org.

— Anne Aurand, The Bulletin

Source: American Orthopaedic Foot&Ankle Society