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Low-Impact Exercises for the Recovering Stress Fracture

If you’re sick of hearing the same songs over and over again over the store radio, or sat through your child watching “Frozen” for the 80th time, you know a bit about overuse. You can overuse your body, too—too much running or playing high-impact sports, especially if you haven’t worked up to it first, can result in tiny, hairline fractures in the bones of your feet known as stress fractures.

The aggravating thing about stress fractures—aside from the pain, of course—is the lengthy rest period required for full healing. In most cases you’ll have to stop whatever activity led to the injury for a period of one to three months; doing too much too soon can force the recovery period back to square one.

That said, we know that most people who run or play sports enough to get an overuse injury probably can’t bear the thought of sitting at home for three months. We want you to stay active, too—you still need exercise! You’ll just need to opt for lower-impact alternatives to avoid disrupting the healing process.

Walking. If you can stand or walk without pain, you can consider going for a walk instead of a run—walking puts much less force and stress on your feet.

Swimming and water exercises. Aquatic exercise is some of the best all-around cardio you can do in any circumstance, and it comes with additional benefit of being low-impact and non-weight-bearing—not to mention a great way to beat the Louisiana summer heat. Swimming maintains fitness and builds muscle, and water exercises take advantage of buoyancy (to reduce effective weight) while adding resistance at the same time.

Cycling. Going for a bike ride, or riding an indoor cycle, is another great way to maintain fitness without pounding your feet. Indoor cycles are preferred because they aren’t affected by terrain, but both can be effective provided your doctor have given the okay.

Weight training. Seated resistance exercises, free weights, pulley machines, and other gym exercises that can be performed while seated (knee flexion, knee extensions, chest press, etc.) will help you work up a sweat and build muscle even when “sidelined” by stress fractures.

Remember, whatever regimen you choose, exercise should not hurt. If any of the above activities are causing pain, stop immediately and give Gulf South Foot & Ankle a call. Let us help you develop a plan to rest and recover from your painful stress fractures. You can reach us online, or by dialing 504-708-4810.

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