Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries seen in athletes. This injury occurs due to overuse. When your muscles are fatigued, they are less able to handle shock absorption. This leads to the excess stress being transferred to the bones, resulting in very tiny cracks in the bones known as stress fractures. The bones in the feet and lower legs are at the greatest risk for this injury.
Why Do Stress Fractures Occur?
Many athletes who experience this injury do so because they go too hard too fast and do not adequately rest their bodies after a strenuous game or training session. When the muscles are not rested, they will fatigue much faster resulting in the bones picking up the slack. Then, the bones are taking on too much and can fracture as a result. A sudden increase in training or playing time and improper shoes can also cause this injury.
Diagnosing a Stress Fracture
This is an injury that absolutely must be evaluated by a doctor. Since this is a type of fracture, a regular X-ray will be done to make a confirmed diagnosis and to determine the extent of your injury. When your doctor suspects a stress fracture, but does not see one on an X-ray, he may also recommend a CT scan or MRI to aid in making the diagnosis. To evaluate your stress fracture risk, a physical examination is done prior to any imaging.
Preventing Stress Fractures
Like most injuries, stress fractures can often be avoided by cross-training. This allows you to not repetitively stress any specific body part. To cross-train, make sure to mix your soccer training with something that is more low-impact like swimming.
When you are training, be sure to introduce new intensity levels slowly and gradually. Doing too much too soon will significantly increase your risk of this injury because your muscles and bones just will not be ready for it.
Strong bones fracture less often than weak bones. To keep bones strong, it is critical to get the proper nutrition. Calcium and vitamin D are very important for strong bones, but an overall well-balanced diet is necessary to ensure maximum bone and overall health.
Wear the right shoes. Make sure that you are wearing proper soccer shoes that fit you correctly. In addition, if you have flat feet, get the right arch support so that your feet are taking less impact.