Ugh!!!! I ran a half marathon last weekend and at 11.5 miles, it felt like my arch collapsed. I finished it because - come on - after 11.5 miles I wanted my dang finishing medal. I hobbled/walked/jogged a very slow finish with a lot of people passing me by. Somehow I still managed to finish in the middle third of the race instead of dead last.
Turns out it's a stress fracture. The doctor says it will be a miracle if I make it to Austin next month. He said he's not saying I can't do it, just that it's very unlikely. After much prodding, he offered up that I could possibly spin-cycle my way to the start line. So that's my plan. I don't want to be out of the race when I'm so close.
Has anyone run on a stress fracture? How serious are they, really? I mean, I did manage to run a mile and a half on it. There's a quarterback who's played a ton of games with one. If I take my calcium and vitamin D supplements and cycle my little heart out.. has anyone else tried it?!! Please help!!!
If you your fracture is not healed and you run on it, the fracture could complete which could put you out for significantly longer possibly even requiring surgery if it's bad enough. Being a quarterback and playing with a stress fracture is COMPLETELY different than trying to run a half marathon or marathon on one (you don't say which you are doing). An NFL quarterback takes a snap, steps back 3 steps and throws a ball. He MIGHT have to run 10-15 yards. MAYBE more. You are talking about running anywhere from 13.1 - 26.2 miles on a stress fracture which is different and honestly stupid if it's not healed. You're talking 2000 steps (give or take) per mile where a QB takes maybe 1000 steps in a whole game. Yeah, totally not the same thing.
Stress fractures take 4-6 weeks to heal. Best case scenario. Calcium and Vitamin D are not going to speed healing but they will help your bones get and remain stronger going forward. Listen to your doctor. It WILL be a miracle if you make it to the start line. Even if you do, sorry, but cycling doesn't mimic running. If you are heck-bent on trying to keep up your fitness and your doctor OK's it, see if you can do pool running. If you don't have access to a pool with a deep end, see if your doctor can give you a prescription and find a place that does. Pool running is the closest equivalent to running without the impact and will be what would keep you in the best shape. But seriously, after my own stress fracture in 2008 took me out of my goal race, I had to keep asking myself "Do you want to run THIS race or do you want to run for the long-term?" Running on an injury like that can take you out for a long time and when I put it to myself that way, the answer was very easy. Keep up the cardio and IF AND ONLY IF your doctor OK's you right before the race should you even consider it.
Stress fractures do not cause arches to collapse. Complete fractures could, but if that were the case you wouldn't be asking us about it, you'd be in a cast. "Stress Fracture" is a convenient diagnosis that makes people stop running so they will not hurt themselves further. If I were you, I'd get a second opinion from a Podiatrist.
Implied but not asked: how was the diagnosis made? Stress fractures generally can't be seen on an x-ray until they start to heal a couple weeks later. Prior to that you need an MRI or bone scan. So a second opinion may be in order. Though that still may not get you to the race on time.
Let me emphasize that I don't recommend running on a stress fracture for the reasons stated by an earlier poster.
You're right, he couldn't see it. He made me walk on my toes, then my heels, felt around my arches and asked me exactly where the pain was and deduced it was most likely a stress fracture. I'm a week down now and my ambitious hopes of healing faster than the average human being and getting to the start line are starting to fade. Still taking calcium supplements though, so we'll see, I guess. It's still a hard pill to swallow that 5 months of training are down the drain.
I'm more worried about the arch collapse you described earlier, than a tiny fissure in the bone's surface. Pound for pound, healthy bone is stronger than untempered steel, which is over 3 times stronger but weighs 4.5 times more. The reason is the layered, tubular structure of bone, called the Haversian Matrix or System:
As you can see, even a crack on the surface is likely to have nothing to do with the integrity of the bone underneath. In the popular culture, we tend to think of bones more with a crystalline structure like porcelain.. which I find comical, especially among runners, who rarely encounter the shear forces of other sports like football. Brittle bones or softened bone are something else entirely, in which case you'd have much more to worry about, so make the most of this checkup.
Meanwhile, the shape of the arch is maintained, not by metatarsal bones and ligaments alone, but by the plantar fascia and muscles/tendons acting on the arch, most notably the Tibialis Posterior, which when released without contraction allows the arch to fall. Even if the muscle (which resides behind and between the bones of the lower leg underneath the Soleus and Gastrocnemius calf muscles) is OK, the tendon wraps underneath the inner ankle bone (medial malleolus) on its way to the spot that hurts. If that tendon were pulled or detached there could be a structural fault or neuromuscular release of the T. Posterior, resulting in the collapsed arch. This should be taken into account during the diagnosis. In the case of a suspected stress fracture, even x-rays show little more than surface calcification, which can be due to other things, including tendon separation or damage.
I recommend the following Medscape link for both you and your doc, because it discusses several separate or concurrent pathologies that are frequently misdiagnosed...http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/386322-overview
Thanks James. I'm not sure if it actually collapsed, it just felt like it that last mile. Intense sharp pain in the middle of my arch. Doc says he thinks it's the 3rd medial metatarsal, so pretty much smack in the middle.
I'm having bone trouble because I'm breastfeeding and it's leeching all the calcium from my body. It seems obvious now, but when I first started I only considered that it would be pretty inconvenient to have a self-inflating chest during a race. It would certainly explain all the trouble I've been having with my shins throughout my training. It might actually be shin splints.
Today I opted out of wearing the boot because it doesn't seem to throb and I just want to guage the pain and motion. I'm taking 1000 mg of Calcium (with Vitamin D and magnesium) a day. I've got 24 days before the Austin marathon and I'm fairly certain I won't make it, but there's still a part of me that just can't let it go.
Now that you mention the 3rd metarsal there is also the possibility of a neuroma, which is very common among distance runners.
Check this link to compare symptoms... http://www.podiatrychannel.com/mortonneuroma/index.shtml
I've been dealing with this problem for some time (it ruined a ferw marathons), but have managed to get around it by modifying my shoes and taping my toes. There are other strategies if it gets out of hand, but the link will describe them in greater detail.
BTW, if that's what it is, it feels like someone drove a spike into your foot. My first suspicion was a fracture too, but it came and went over years depending on mileage. It is more likely (from a runners perspective) if your shoes are cramped or you overpronate.