News / Stress Fractures for Runners: A Quick Overview

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Bone Stress Fractures in runners  

Bone stress fractures to the lower legs commonly occur in runners, especially when preparing for marathons. This can often mean that runners aren’t miss out on their events or experience setbacks in training. These injuries are likely due to runners being quite thin and lean to be competitive and the nature of their training (lots of endurance and repetitive strain on their joints).

The answer often lies with training patterns. Strength training greatly reduces the chances of stress fractures, as stronger muscles protect joints.


Factors to consider

For our runners, it is important consider that how they run affects stress fractures too. A sudden change from flat ground running to trail running can greatly increase pressure on the lower limbs. Running downhill will place even more pressure on the bones still. In addition, running uphill and upstairs generally puts less pressure on the bones than running on flat ground. Using a bicycle or swimming can be a great way to continue training for endurance in the presence of a bone stress injury as they both significantly reduce the impact put on the bones.

A runner that is a  forefoot striker is more likely to put strain on the bones of their toes and metatarsal and will rely more on their ankle and foot strength. Whereas a runner that is a rearfoot striker, is generally more likely to suffer from injuries the heels, knee and hips.


Overtraining is also a big factor. It is recommended not to run more than 9 months in a year and to have a 2 weeks of rest from running per 3 months of training.  It is also good to have a day where you don’t run each week. Sprint training, jumping and plyometrics are also a good way to build bone health. Building power and increasing strength helps to complement endurance training and can be beneficial for all runners.

There are many things to look at when making a runner “bullet-proof” from bone stress injuries.

If you are worried or experience any of these issue, come in and have chat to an exercise physiologist today.


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