What Is A Stress Fracture?

What Is A Stress Fracture?

Runners are faced with a wide range of injuries that can happen to them, but one that truly will put fear in their hearts is a stress fracture.

Jun 17, 2022 by FloTrack Staff
What Is A Stress Fracture?

Runners are faced with a wide range of injuries that can happen to them, but one that truly will put fear in their hearts is a stress fracture. 

This painful injury can happen without any warning and is guaranteed to keep runners away for some time.

A stress fracture essentially is a small crack in a bone caused by overuse or performing repetitive stress-bearing movements. Stress fractures are among the most common injuries runners can have, especially because 80% of such injuries occur in the legs.

The majority of stress fractures affect competitive athletes and often show up in teens and early adults. Though both genders can have them, female athletes tend to have a higher chance of developing this type of injury than their male counterparts.

What Causes A Stress Fracture?

As mentioned earlier, a stress fracture happens when a person puts consistent stress on a specific part of their body. 

Undergoing intensive training for a long time with little time off - as well as early sports specialization - leads to an increased risk of stress fractures.

Sports that involve high-impact contact such as the following are the most prevalent types of sports where athletes can experience stress fractures:

  • Running
  • Track and field
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics

People who are constantly training hard without the right conditioning also are at a higher risk of developing stress fractures. This primarily is because stress is easily transferred to a person's bones once their muscles no longer are able to absorb impacts.

Athletes who have flat feet or fallen arches also have an increased probability of having a stress fracture. Other risk factors to consider include:

  • Running without the proper footwear
  • Running on rough surfaces
  • Osteopenia or low bone mineral density
  • Eating disorders

How To Identify Stress Fractures

How can one know if they have a stress fracture? Although it's not possible to know for sure without getting an imaging scan from a doctor, there are signs that can indicate a person has one.

  • Dull pain around the site
  • Constant pain that worsens during physical activity
  • Swelling and bruising

If these symptoms are present, it's best to go to a physician to receive a medical evaluation. These doctors can help determine the presence of stress fractures and recommend the proper course of action to minimize further damage to the affected area.


A stress fracture is a physical injury that is common among athletes - particularly those who are constantly doing high-impact activities. Stress fractures often occur in the lower extremities and are more prevalent among women.

To identify a stress fracture, it's best to visit a doctor once you notice any swelling, bruising, or constant pain in a specific body part. A physician can provide you with a medical evaluation to assess the steps you should take, so you can fully recover from your condition.