Adam Lyon, MD, a Franciscan Health board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Franciscan Physician Network Orthopedic Specialists in Indianapolis, specializes in foot and ankle conditions. He answers your questions and shares expert insight to help you prevent stress fractures during marathon training.
Q: My friend and I are training for our first marathon. My friend, however, has had to stop training for several weeks due to a stress fracture. How can I keep from getting one?
A: A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone; they are very common for runners. Stress fractures in the foot and ankle usually happen when a person changes or intensifies his or her activity level. The main symptom is pain, usually worsening when doing weight-bearing activities. Untreated, the stress fracture could develop into a complete break of the bone.
As you continue your marathon training, be sure to take important steps to prevent stress fractures, including:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Make sure your shoes are in good shape. Throw out shoes that are old or worn.
- Increase your activity slowly, by about 10 percent per week.
- Cross-train to keep from overstressing your feet and legs.
- Add strength training to your workout.
- Don't exercise through returning pain. Check with your doctor if pain continues.