November 15th, 2013

Health N' Sports: Stress Fractures

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Stress Fractures
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As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Stress Fractures: 5 Key Points

1) What causes stress fractures for basketball players?

Repetitive use without allowing sufficient time for the bone to recover is typically the cause for a stress fracture.  In the last several years overuse injuries have become somewhat of a hot topic as sports have become increasingly competitive even at the grade school level.  Even for athletes who may only play one sport, intense conditioning and practices are beginning earlier and earlier in order to prepare for the upcoming season.  In addition to this, it’s quite common for athletes to be involved in club sports outside of their schools athletic team/s.  Benefits of this level of involvement typically outweigh risks, however, it allows for little time for the body to rest and recover. Obviously these concerns increase with students participating in multiple sports. 

Not every child is the same, and what one’s body can handle, another may not.  For instance, girls who have an irregular menstrual cycle may be at greater risk for stress fracture.  The important thing is to listen to your body. Sometimes even minor aches or pains can mean that something more serious is underlying.  While it may be hard to take a break to let your body heal, you have to remember that the time you’ll have to take off from your sport if you become injured is much greater. It’s all about prevention, knowing how much your body can take, and listening to what your body is telling so that you can take care of it properly in order to continue to participate in the sport/s you love.

2) What are exercises or activities that help prevent stress fractures?

Again, the best thing you can do to prevent a stress fracture is to give your body time to rest and recover from all of the work its doing.  Especially if you’ve taken a break from regular physical activity, it’s important to re-enter your conditioning and work-out routine gradually.  Even if you’ve kept up with physical activities in the off season, it’s important to gradually build up to the intensity level you are aiming to reach.

3) What tips are helpful to heal or get better from stress fractures?

The single most important tip is to rest the fractured area.  Second, you may try non-weight bearing exercises to strength the area without adding pressure or stress.  Depending on the actual site of the fracture, a physician or physical therapist can recommend specific exercises.

4) What ages of student athletes deal with stress fractures (grade school, high school, college, or professional)?

All ages of athletes are susceptible to stress fractures. Obviously, as the intensity of the program increases, the risk for stress fractures increase.

5) How long does it take to recover from a stress fracture?

Typical recovery time for a stress fracture is anywhere from 4-6 weeks.  This usually entails instructions for the patient to be non-weight bearing, and usually requires the use of crutches.

Answers contributed by J. Steve Smith, M.D., and Jordan Tinnell, DME manager

Louisville Orthopaedic Cilnic and Sports Rehab Center                                                          

4130 Dutchman’s Ln, Ste. 300 

Louisville, KY 40207                            

Ph. 502-897-1794   


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