Training with a Stress Fracture

author : AMSSM
comments : 0

Member Question

"I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my right foot, 4th metatarsal, in early January.  I have the ok to walk, swim and bike as of yesterday when I got the boot off, but no running for another 6 WEEKS.  I am not a true runner, but running is really the activity that makes me feel like I have had a good, whole body workout.  Any outside of the box (for triathletes) suggestions on an activity that can provide a similar feeling that doesn't risk aggravating my foot?  I don't want to push that hard on the bike yet and I have been swimming the whole time anyway with on legged push-offs and a limp right foot, but no real interval swimming because I can feel soreness even with "subconscious" right foot kicks at low stroke rate."

Answer from Anna Monroe, MD
Member AMSSM

Being injured is no fun, but I am glad that you are recovering and are closer to returning to running each day. No other activity exactly mimics running, but there are other ways to maintain or improve your fitness.

1. Deep water running: Either with or without a floatation belt “run” in the deep end of a pool attempting to imitate land running form. To make it more interesting add intervals of increased intensity. Aim to run at the same or higher intensity you would on dry land. Besides getting a good workout you will likely gain mental toughness too!

2. Elliptical trainer: Exercising on the elliptical trainer provides a similar feeling to running without the same level of impact. Try to match the cadence of the machine with your normal leg turnover during running, and alter the resistance to create an intensity similar to that of running. Use a natural arm swing. A study of similarly trained women performing a 12 week exercise program on a treadmill, stair climber, or elliptical trainer showed an increase in their fitness regardless of which machine they used.

3. In-line skating: In-line skating truly embodies “thinking outside the box” for a triathlete, but it offers excellent aerobic training with less impact than running. A study of college students who either ran or skated at similar intensities during a nine week period showed a similar improvement in fitness. If you have never skated before make sure to research the activity and equip yourself with the proper gear including a helmet and wrist guards at a minimum. Some communities offer lessons and access to indoor rinks which can be helpful for beginners.

4. Weight-lifting: Often neglected by endurance athletes who can’t squeeze in just one more workout into their weekly schedule, weight-lifting truly offers a full body workout. Try a session with a personal trainer or a class at your gym for a safe introduction if you have not visited the weight room often. Although weightlifting typically does not provide the same aerobic training as a running workout, circuit training often can elevate your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular fitness too.

Injuries are frustrating, but sometimes they can serve as a way to expand your fitness horizons by trying new things and meeting new people. Good luck!

Anna Monroe, MD


References:

Chu KS, Rhodes EC. Physiological and cardiovascular changes associated with deep water running in the young. Sports Med 2001; 31(1):33-46.

Egana M, Donne B. Physiological changes following a 12 week gym based stair-climbing, elliptical trainer and treadmill running program in females. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2004; 44(2):141-6.

Melanson EL, Freedson PS, Jungbluth S. Changes in VO2max and maximal treadmill time after 9 weeks of running or in-line skating. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996; 28(11):1422-6.

Alcarez PE, Sanchez-Lorente J, Blazevich AJ. Physical performance and cardiovascular responses to an acute bout of heavy resistance circuit training versus traditional strength training. J Strength Cond Res 2008; 22(3):667-71.

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date: April 23, 2012

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AMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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avatarAMSSM

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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