Return to Running After A Stress Fracture

Run heart

So apparently heading out for your normal run after a stress fracture is not the way to go. Sigh… It is so tempting though! After not running at all for 8 weeks and “not really” running for 12 weeks, I just needed to get back out there. Now that I have that out of my system (and a little soreness to go with it) it’s time to be smart about getting back into running. I don’t want to end up back where I was!healing

These are the Steps To Get Back Into Running without reinjuring yourself after a stress fracture.

  • Make Sure Your Stress Fracture Is Healed
  • Cross Train
  • Start Running Gradually
  • Fix The Problem That Caused The Stress Fracture

Make Sure Your Stress Fracture Is Healed

Healing times vary depending upon the location and severity of your stress fracture. Follow your doctor’s instructions so you don’t have to restart the process (trust me on this one…). It’s so hard to be patient and wait it out! But you have to. Once you have gotten the OK to start back up, make sure you do the hop test. Hop on the leg/foot that was injured. Does it hurt? If so, you are not ready to run.

Cross Train

Once you are given the thumbs up from your doctor, start low impact cross training. Swimming, biking and the elliptical are all good options to keep up your cardiovascular fitness. Strength training and yoga will keep you strong and help you prevent future injuries. Don’t forget about your core!

Start Running Gradually

Did you know that your body absorbs four times your bodyweight in force when you run?  If you are recovering from an injury, this is not a very good option! So start slowly, alternating running and walking. Remember, you should not have pain while running! If you do, stop. This is not the kind of pain you can run through. That being said, you will probably have sensitivity at the fracture site and some soreness in your muscles and joints when you are getting back into running. This is normal.

When getting back into running, you should not increase pace, distance or frequency of your runs at the same time. Take one at a time. Remember this is not training! Now is not the time to sign up for a race. This is still the recovery process. Here is a 7 week schedule for gradually getting back into your normal running routine.

Schedule for Returning to Running from Injury

Walk 5 min, Run 5 min, Repeat 3 times Cross train Cross train Walk 5 min, Run 5 min, Repeat 3 times Cross train  Cross train Walk 3 min, Run 7 min,  Repeat 3 times
Cross train Walk 2 min, Run 8 min, Repeat 3 times Cross train Run 10 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 3 times Cross train Run 12 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 2 times Rest
Run 15 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 2 times Cross train Run 20 min, Walk 2 min, Run 10 min Cross train Run 25 min Cross train Rest
Run 30 minutes Cross train Run 30 min Cross Train Run 30 min Cross train Rest
Run 35 min Cross train Run 35 Min Cross train Run 40 min Cross train Rest
Tempo Run (15 min warm-up, 15 min at race pace) Cross train Run 45 min Cross train Run 40 min plus 4 x 100 meter strides Cross train Rest
Run 45 minutes Cross train Tempo Run (15 min warm-up, 20 min at race pace) Cross train Run 50 minutes Cross train Rest

Fix The Problem That Caused The Stress Fracture

Hopefully during your time off you figured out why you got a stress fracture in the first place. Was it poor mechanics? Nutritional deficits? Overtraining? The wrong gear? Whatever it was, make sure you fix it before you start running again.

Now it’s time for me to follow my own advice. I’m not known to be the most patient person 😉

Some silliness at our house tonight. We have a birthday coming up that we are having fun getting ready for.




So, I am wondering, do you let your kids shoot nerf guns in the house?

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