Exercises To Stay In Shape When You Have A Stress Fracture

When you're injured, it can be frustrating to be limited in what you're able to do, especially if your injury limits your physical mobility. Luckily, there are many ways to exercise without further straining the part of your body that is currently recovering. Before beginning any new exercise routine while injured, always consult your doctor to make certain that you're in the clear for your desired workout regimen. You don't want to return to physical activity too quickly and end up causing further injury, warns OrthoInfo. If you do get the green light to exercise, start slowly, listen to your body, and avoid high-impact activities that could stunt your recovery.

If your injury is a stress fracture, here's what you should keep in mind about exercising during recovery. Mayo Clinic defines stress fractures as small cracks in bones resulting from the repetitive force, impact, or overuse. Many stress fractures are diagnosed in the body's lower limbs since legs, ankles, and feet tend to bear most of the weight and load during physically demanding responsibilities, though stress fractures can affect any bone in the body. Those with the highest risk of stress fractures include athletes, military personnel, and others who carry heavy bags for long amounts of time and people who try a new exercise or activity and take on too much physical strain too quickly. When you have a stress fracture, here are the types of exercises you can do to stay in shape — with your doctor's permission, of course.

Take it slow and easy

The location of your stress fracture will determine the types of exercises you'll be eligible to do while you're recovering from your injury, but you won't have to fear going stir-crazy. There are plenty of low-impact exercises you can do as you heal from a stress fracture, though always remember that taking your approach slow and easy is the best way to go into exercising when you have a stress fracture (via RNV Podiatry). Since stress fractures usually occur from overuse, continuing to utilize the injured part of your body can do more harm than good. That said, exercises recommended during recovery from a stress fracture include swimming, water-based exercise routines, stationary bike cardio, and seated resistance activities. If your stress fracture is located on your leg or foot, you'll want to avoid exercises that require standing or placing weight-bearing pressure on your lower body. For resistance and weight training exercises, you can try machine-based rows and chest presses.

Water also provides resistance in a low-impact environment, per Healthline. Exercising in a pool can simultaneously provide support for your joints and muscles while challenging your body with resistance that you can't get doing the same exercises, like squats, on land. While offering you a resistance-focused workout that supports instead of strains your body, swimming is also a great cardio workout. That sounds like a perfect trifecta for both recovery and non-recovery times.

Stay in shape mentally and emotionally

A large component of staying in shape when you have a stress fracture is ensuring that your mental and emotional well-being are taken care of and that in turn, you're finding the outlets you need to prioritize your mental health. According to NYU Langone Health, mind-body wellness is a key part of recovery. When you think of exercising, you may envision going for a run or lifting weights at the gym, but there are many ways you can move your body while also enhancing the quality of your emotional and mental health. Exercises you can try during your recovery from a stress fracture include tai chi, yoga, and meditation. Acupuncture and acupressure are other ways to decrease the pain you may be feeling, reduce inflammation, and allow you to relax while the tension in your body is released.

Stress is a big part of having a stress fracture, both physically and emotionally. It can be easy to slip into a mindset where you lament the physical activity you were able to engage in prior to your injury, but it's best to stay focused on the present and to speak kindly to yourself by practicing gratitude for where you are in your exercise journey (per Henry Ford Health). Ways to exercise your focus on the present include identifying aspects of your health and physical activity that you're grateful for today, as well as the progress you're making in your recovery.