Resuming running after stress fracture (Read 4863 times)


    Background: Running on-and-off about three years, I started up again in February after taking a long-ish break.  Built up very slowly (from February until July) to 40 mpw, including running my longest race yet, a half-marathon, at the end of May.  Early July started feeling acute pain in my left lower leg when I ran, or when I put pressure on it.  (It was a specific spot on the bone that hurt when I put pressure on it).  Decided it was probably a stress fracture, and though I should have probably seen a doctor, I also felt like there wasn't much that they would do except tell me to stop running for a while.


    So I stopped running for about six weeks, and this week have started running again, following a plan I found for returning to running after a stress fracture.  It starts with a couple weeks of run-walk 3 times a week and then transitions into running short distances (30 minutes-60 minutes) 3 times a week. 


    Before the stress fracture, I had registered for a half-marathon in the middle of September.  While I have not entirely decided not to run it, I'm thinking I'll either forget about it or do some run-walk method to get through it.


    I would appreciate anything- advice or anecdotes- about returning to running after a stress fracture.  The last thing I want to do is to do too much, too soon before it's completely healed and have to take even more time off.  I would like to get back to 35-40 mpw as soon as possible, but above that, I'm concerned about staying uninjured, even if it means taking a long time to get to that point.

    Thanks in advance.

    Up next: Front Runners New York LGBT Pride 5-mile  06/28 |  NYRR Team Championships: Women (5M) 08/02

    Goal race: NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10K 10/25


      I think you answered your own question, take it easy, go by feel, and probably ditch the HM, there are always others
      Run like you stole it!

        I think that the program you are using sounds great!  I did something similar coming back from a severe calf strain/tear.  I also agree ditch the HM it is too hard to pull back on a race and then you risk injuring it.  That is exactly what did my calf in, I had already slightly strained the calf but was still able to run then I did this trail race that was pretty much uphill (injured my calf on an incline) and that is when my slight strain turned into a severe one and it knocked me out for over two months!  In hindsight it wasn't very bright of me and I learned my lesson.  Anyways good luck, it will get better, just take it slow and easy.

          meaghanchan, a few years ago I had a stress fracture in my heel, x-rays confirmed and I was given a set of crutches.  For recovery, I took 2 weeks off then started back very slowly(2-3 time/week 3-6 miles each).  It took a good 2 months until I was back to normal.  In hindsight I should of taken more time-off up front and eased into it more, it would of saved me a lot of discomfort Smile during those first few weeks back.


          Your approach is great(6 weeks off, slowly getting back to running), my only recommendation would of been to have it x-rayed.  The HM is another ~4 weeks away, if anything you could do the run/walk thing, bail out in the middle and use it as a short supported training run.   Anyway, just my thoughts.



            Yeah...I ran my first marathon on a stress fracture stupidly. I went to the doc the next day and was stuck in an air cast for a month. Anyways, after 3 months of very little running, and just lots of biking, I'm back to running. I think my weekly miles jumping back in was: 0-11-20-40. Just listen to your body and stop if the leg is still hurting.

            Imminent Catastrophe

              This might be the program you are using.


              It worked well for me. Don't try to rush back after a stress fracture. Finish the rehab program, then observe the 10% per week rule. If that doesn't get you to 13 miles by the race date, I would say don't do it.

              "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

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                I resumed running on June 27th after being benched for about 5 months from a femoral stress fracture.


                So you didn't see a sports doc?  Are you sure it was a stress fracture?  6 weeks does not sound like very long to be recovered from a stress fracture but I'm not a Dr.  Just somebody who has had 2 stress fractures. 


                I cross trained the entire time so when I hit the pavement again I was not completely out of shape.  Started with an easy 3 miles, 3 times a week.  I'm now running 4 days a week and logged 29 miles last week.  My sports doc did not give me any specific mileage limits, just to not run everyday and not too hard.  I already run at a snail's pace so not going too fast is easy.  LOL!  If you are interested you can view my log for more details.  You really need to listen to your body and if you feel any pain in the area of the stress fracture stop. 


                I'm in the same place as you regarding being registered for a goal race this fall.  I have been registered since February for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on October 4th.  I will have nowhere near the base or training to run the race thanks to the injury but the dreamer in me still can't give up on the thought that maybe, just maybe...


                Good luck on your recovery!


                  So my past life was as an athletic trainer at a D1 university sports program. Dealing with a lot of stress Fractures and let me tell you no one is the same. There is no mathmateical equation you can follow. You have to listen to your body. You can supplement your runs with different exercises. Pool running is great! Go to a shallow end where the water level is up to your armpits and run some laps. Progress out of the pool by getting the water level lower on your body. Pits, chest, stomach, waist. Then you can do dryland running and pool running and then progress out of the pool. Continue to work cardio on other machines, bike is good but you use your leg muscles different. There is no shock absorbtion that you need to stay used to. You can try elipiticals, they take away the shock but still add stress to the bones.


                  But always listen to your body, pain means stop! And always ice down after!


                    Thanks, everyone, for the input.


                    Like I said, I am not 100% sure it was a stress fracture, I never saw a doctor for it, but the symptoms (sharp, acute pain in bone when I put pressure on one specific spot on the bone, plus pain when I ran on it) fit, so my guess is if it wasn't a stress fracture, it was well on its way to becoming one.


                    I don't have easy access to a pool, so I'll stick with the schedule I'm using (yes, it is Pfitzinger's).  Yesterday I ran 10 minutes/walked 2 and no pain at all so far.  The HM is 4 weeks away from this weekend; I think I will take everyone's advice and ditch it.  There will be other races. 

                    Up next: Front Runners New York LGBT Pride 5-mile  06/28 |  NYRR Team Championships: Women (5M) 08/02

                    Goal race: NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10K 10/25

                      I gained 20 lbs last winter, and I don't know how, and then I set out to run a 1/2 this year in May after substantial weight lifting in the off season and everything just fell to pieces when I started to run as I couldn't break a 10 minute mile and had 8 weeks to go until the 1/2 and the top of left foot was really hurting big time. I had an x ray and doctor said to stop running and go on anti inflammatory medicine and get physical therapy. Now its late August and its just now starting to feel somewhat better, but I am following a more rigorous workout scheme; I lost 5 months. Now, I always do a 15 to 20 minute warm up that includes stretching and then the workout and then a post core warm down and have gone into a stability shoe also. I have isolated the problem due to a mechanics issue and have taken out long distance running and am limiting all workouts to 5k at the most until I feel confident with the mechanics and shoes being correct and its just now starting to pay off somewhat. Its much more difficult to get hurt running 5k than a 1/2 marathon. So my advice is to recover nicely, then get some confidence with shorter races and then build up to the next race with a program in Phitz's book.