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2458 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 21, 2014 4:56 PM by JamesJohnsonLMT
hammer4321 Amateur 34 posts since
Apr 3, 2013
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 4, 2013 1:09 PM

Fibula Stress Fracture - Time to heal?

Ran a 10K back in late September and hurt my leg...kept running (I know, not good) and when the pain got worse after a few weeks I went to the Dr.  Had an XRay and MRI and was diagnosed with a stress fracture and I'm in the initial "keep all weight off" phase, which I'll admit I'm not perfect on but I do keep it in a boot most of the day.  Does not hurt to hobble on it anymore and the area is still a bit swollen but not tender to the touch like it was.


Just wondering if others have had this type of injury and what the usual time is for it to heal to the point of running again...I was up to 20 miles/week before the injury, and I want to be able to ski this winter and run a half marathon next spring/summer.

  • shipo Legend 499 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Nov 4, 2013 1:26 PM (in response to hammer4321)
    Fibula Stress Fracture - Time to heal?

    I've managed to fracture both of my fibulas (twenty years apart).


    The first fracture (right at the beginning of ski season, but not skiing related) had me in a walking cast (good old white plaster back then) and my surgeon told me to stay "non-weight bearing" (NWB) for five days; after that I could walk on the cast and had little pain.  The cast came off after six weeks, and it took me an easy month after that before I felt strong enough to lightly jog.  I finally started running about six weeks post cast (twelve weeks post break), and by the end of that track season I was fully back in the swing of things.


    The second fracture was pretty severe and was coupled with a partially removed foot.  After my surgery I was kept NWB for six months and then in a walking boot for another six weeks.  Worse still, the surgeon told me I'd walk with a limp for the rest of my life and I'd never run again.  I was able to lose the limp after maybe a year, but the running thing didn't get restarted for a whopping six years.  I finally discovered that if I ran on a dirt trail, the asymmetry of my stride due to my range of motion issues was compensated for by the soft ground.  It took a while, but I was finally able to start lifting my feet and approximate something akin to a jog, which was a marked improvement compared to shuffling through the dirt.  Now, four years later I'm putting in over sixty miles per week; it's almost as if it never happened.


    It sounds like you might have an injury approximately the same as my first fracture, however, I opted to tell you about my second one as well.  Why?  To suggest to you that when you do start running again, you might want to find a dirt trail or a golf course or someplace with a soft surface.  I cannot stress enough how much, ummm, stress, is eliminated by running on a soft surface.

    Fat old man PRs:

    • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
    • 2-mile: 13:49
    • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
    • 5-Mile: 37:24
    • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
    • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
    • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,291 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Nov 5, 2013 1:18 PM (in response to hammer4321)
    Fibula Stress Fracture - Time to heal?

    Great stuff from Shipo, but I'm curious about your history with sport, and whether the injury resulted from trauma due to a misstep or fall, and whether you were properly conditioned for the 10k.


    It's no secret that the net effect of running and other load-bearing sports is to toughen bone and increase density. However, this does not happen overnight, and it's always possible to walk into a workout or contest unprepared, vulnerable to a fracture that should not have happened.


    Another concern I have is whether, like most Americans, you might be deficient in one or more vital minerals. Calcium is all around us - they put it in almost everything these days - but there are several other minerals that may be poorly represented in your diet, or that you may not be absorbing sufficiently. Magnesium is often chief among these, because so much is required, and it is hard to absorb. Here's a somewhat commercial explanation that explains it better, though I cannot vouch for the suggested supplement.


    Many foods are rich in these minerals, but are not found to any great extent in the average diet. There are also important vitamins, such as D & K, that are harder to come by with our indoor UV-shielded lifestyle and avoidance of fermented foods.


    I would get checked for deficiencies in all these areas, and make sure you don't compete in any events without working your way up gradually to the challenge you are asking your body to endure.


    I think you will achieve your goals, if you prepare like a champion nutritionally as well as physically. Expect some setbacks in performance after this injury, but expect also to come back stronger in the future like Shipo did. Above all, patience, then preparedness, and persistence are key to your success.


    I broke both my tib & fib years ago, was laid up for 6 months to atrophy, limped for a while, felt pain for years, and eventually took up marathoning to BQ. Just don't be passive about your rehab. Keep your eyes on the prize, and take care of yourself proactively, as only you can do.

  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,291 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jan 21, 2014 4:56 PM (in response to hammer4321)
    Fibula Stress Fracture - Time to heal?

    Yes, I agree that apple picking on uneven ground, the day of your PR, after insufficient training, was probably the perfect storm that caused your injury. While I've seen worse, many would not be back in the saddle so soon. What bothers me is the "duck footed" adaptation in response to the injury. This kind of muscular compensation syndrome rarely ends well. It often results in hip injuries, knee injuries, or injuries to the foot. I would not be surprised if it has as much to do with your back pain as those crutches.


    This gait problem needs to be trained out asap, preferably by a professionally trained sports PT. Please do not extend your mileage until this "alignment" problem is fixed, or we'll be hearing from you again about one of the other problems I mentioned above. Congratulations on your partial recovery. I sincerely hope it becomes a full recovery in 2014, with many more PRs to come!

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