What is a Stress Fracture?
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. This injury does not happen overnight. A stress fracture starts as a small stress reactions and catching it early can mean the difference between a short time away or a chronic issue. Issues like poor joint alignment during impact (landing from a jump), increasing activity too soon, and poor nutrition can all contribute to stress fractures.
So, how do you know if you have one? And what should you do if you get one?
Step 1 Go to your doctor if the following symptoms are present:
Sharp pain while walking and mild swelling, in the affected area.
Aching pain at night, even when there is no load on the foot.
It may be uncomfortable or painful when pressure is applied directly to the small area around the fracture.
Shin or foot pain when landing from a jump
Follow the recommendations by your doctor and let the fracture heal while keeping the rest of your body dance ready. This can be a challenging part of the process, but it is important to not stop ALL activity. Working with a qualified rehab professional can mean that you will be able to rest the injured area while staying strong. Also, many Dance Medicine Professionals advice dancers to begin light load activities, like Pilates equipment, before you return to the studio. This will aid the healing process and help avoid a recurrence.
Step 3 Correct the Root Cause A major component of t
he treatment for a stress fracture must always be in identifying and correcting any contributing factors that led to the injury developing in the first case. After the healing process is done the real work begins. This may include, but is certainly not limited to:
Pelvic and core stability exercises
Movement training to work on alignment and biomechanics
Specific manual therapy techniques to mobilize stiff areas of the foot
Specific strengthening and re-patterning exercises for the foot and ankle
Fascial Mobility exerc
ises to ensure balance and mobility in the body
All of that being said...90% of dance injuries are foreseeable and you can reduce your risk of injuries occurring if you understand why they happen. Movement assessments are a dancers best defense against common dance injuries.