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All About Athletes, Dancers, and Stress Fractures

Athlete Touching His Feet
Sports and dancing are supposed to take the body to its peak level. However, doing either activity competitively or over a long period can result in chronic foot pain. Said pain might just be from fatigue. However, it could also be a sign of a stress fracture.
What a Stress Fracture Is
A stress fracture consists of breaks in the bone. However, these breaks aren't as significant as, say, a compound fracture. Instead, the stress fracture is a series of tiny breaks, usually found in the bones of the feet. Left untreated, the tiny fractures can widen and become a total break.
Stress fractures can be the result of pounding your feet on the ground. Essentially, they occur when abnormal force is placed on normal bone, as often occurs in sports and dance. They can also result when normal force is placed on abnormal bone. In fact, a host of activities, as well as genetic predisposition, can lead to stress fractures.
Causes of Stress Fractures
As noted above, stress fractures can be a result of a pre-existing condition. For example, flatfoot can lead to more common occurrences of stress fractures because the entire sole of your foot touches the floor when you run or jump. You'll also be more predisposed to stress fractures if you have a general bone issue such as osteoporosis.
However, any athlete or dancer can suffer from stress fractures. In fact, they commonly occur when you use improper equipment, which leads to that abnormal force. For example, shoes without enough support or too-hard surfaces during training can result in stress fractures. You can also incur stress fractures due to improper or over-training.
Sports and Dancing Can Lead to Stress Fractures
Running and jumping are the leading causes of stress fractures. Naturally, any kind of track and field athletes are susceptible to this condition. However, any sport that incorporates running, such as basketball and football, can lead to stress fractures. The movements in tennis and gymnastics also make these athletes prone to the fracturing.
Concerning dance, the pounding foot movements in flamenco and tap dancing lead to more instances of stress fractures. Not surprisingly, the extreme movements associated with ballet dancing also lead to the condition you even see it in the shins of ballet dancers.
Symptoms and Diagnoses of Stress Fractures
The main symptom of a stress fracture in the foot is pain. This pain doesn't go away after rest, and it persists whenever you stand. You can also experience swelling, redness, and bruising in the foot.
Your doctor might suspect a stress fracture due to your predisposition or catalog of activities. However, the only way to diagnose a stress fracture is via testing such as X-rays, bone scans, and MRIs. MRIs are the most effective for diagnosing the condition.
Treatment for Stress Fractures
Stress fractures aren't like other breaks in that you usually don't have to get a cast. However, podiatrists often prescribe a walking boot. This boot reduces the weight-bearing load on the bone while it heals. Surgery is necessary in rare cases.
Bad news - you'll need to stop participating in the sport or dance until your stress fracture fully heals. Likewise, if it hurts, you probably shouldn't be doing it. So, if you're participating in some other training to keep in shape, said activity needs to keep weight off of your foot.
Preventing Future Stress Fractures
Good health is one of the best preventions for future stress fractures. You'll want to eat a healthy diet, especially one that's rich in bone-building nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium. Likewise, stay in good condition and at the right weight for your skeletal structure.
You'll also want to invest in the proper foot equipment, especially when it comes to athletics. During training and performance, always warm up before the activity and cool down afterward. Essentially, listen to your body, especially your feet.
Treat current stress fractures and prevent future ones so you can keep enjoying your favorite activity. Consult with the podiatry experts at Greenville Podiatry Associates PA for more information.