Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stress and Fracture in the Same Sentence.

Since I finished the marathon on Saturday, I've been flipping between two thoughts mentally.
1. I'm a marathoner- jump for joy.
2. I might be injured- I can't jump for joy.

Deep Breath. No cussing or crying or chocolate therapy.
 Let's be rational. 

Mile 21 of my marathon ushered in something I've never felt before-- pain in my left shin. In exercise, there are "good pains" and "bad pains". This was a bad one. It started out as a dull ache, and grew stronger and stronger. By the end of the marathon, my left shin was saying some pretty dark things to me. The pain was isolated to a small fist-sized section of my left outer-shin about 4 inches above my ankle. 

The below picture was taken Sunday afternoon- you can see slight redness and swelling where I've had the pain. It never got dark or looked bruised, but you could see some swelling for the 24 hours following the marathon.
Each day since the marathon, the soreness has decreased, but it still hurts. The pain isn't severe at this point- but it's still pain. Pain is not a good sign. 

I've been reading up on the internet, and there's a possibly that it's a lingering shin splint. According to what I've read; if it's just an aggravated, Goliath-sized shin splint, I should expect the pain to cease completely with 5-7 days. If the pain doesn't go away within a week........I'm afraid I may be looking at a stress fracture. 

According to Wikipedia; 

 A stress fracture is one type of incomplete fracture in bones. It is caused by "unusual or repeated stress" and also heavy continuous weight on the ankle or leg.[1] This is in contrast to other types of fractures, which are usually characterized by a solitary, severe impact.
It could be described as a very small sliver or crack in the bone;[2] this is why it is sometimes dubbed "hairline fracture". It typically occurs in weight-bearing bones, such as the tibia (bone of the lower leg), metatarsals (bones of the foot), and less commonly, the femur.
It is a common sports injury, and most cases are associated with athletics.[3]

Nothing strikes fear in a runner's heart more than the words stress and fracture in immediate sequence. Wikipedia goes on to enlighten us that if indeed diagnosed with a stress fracture, one must expect a minimum of 4-6 weeks of absolutely NO running, with the potential for complete healing to take up to 6-8 months (read- a lifetime and a half). 
I've  been blessed with pain-free, injury-free running for 15 months now, and it is a gift that I have not taken for granted  I have intentionally invested a lot of time and energy into injury prevention, but I'm not always the smartest tool in the shed. My marathon was a distance PR of 12 miles, run exclusively on pavement (a lot of my training runs were run on gravel/dirt and the treadmill) and on hills. There are enough ingredients there to be a recipe for an injury, despite my best efforts. 
Right now, it's a waiting-no-running game. I won't be running until I'm pain-free, and I'm praying that's sooner rather than later. It's only been 4 days, but I miss running terribly. 

Have you ever been injured?
Any stress-fracture survivors have insight to share?


  1. Girl! Hope your shin heels soon! I know what that's like -- very painful and very annoying! :/ Have you tried muscle rub on it? -Kimberly

  2. Oh no girl!! I hope that it's just still a little sore and not really a stress fracture! Either way rest up and ice for sure!!!

  3. Congrats on the marathon but BOO to the possible fx!!! I'll be PRAYING that's not what it is...I've only got 11 days until mine!!

  4. Oh no! I'll be hoping for the best for you!

  5. ahhh hope it's not a stress fracture!!! feel better!

  6. Maybe you should go to the dr., just to make sure?

  7. First of all, congrats on the marathon! Awesome job! Second, I had a stress fracture in my shin. You'll know if you rub your finger down the bone firmly and feel a sharp pain in one specific spot. If the pain is spread out over an inch or more, it's probably something else, I'm no doctor, but that's how my doc knew I had one, I almost kicked him in the face when he hit the spot. I took 2 months off, quit running on the treadmill and have been healthy ever since. Good luck! I hate injuries!

    1. Hm- well by this test it is NOT a stress-fracture= no pain when I rub my finger down the bone! Thanks for the comment!

  8. So sorry to hear you're injured. I had stress fractures in both of my legs my senior year of highschool, from over-running on a wooden basketball court floor day after day. The only healer was rest. I think I took almost 2 months off from running, but they have been completely healed every since (9 years later!). I hope the pain goes away soon!

  9. A stress fracture is a very common issue for a marathoner like you. This happens when you push yourself to the limit. The repeated stress on the shin is what causes the bones to get stress fracture. Rest is one of the solutions for this. Always take a week of rest, or so, after every marathon. If your stress fracture gets severe, do not hesitate to go to your orthopedic for medications. It may be just a simple fracture, but it could worsen if you ignore it. @ Fort Lauderdale Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

  10. “Pain is not a good sign.” – You’re absolutely right, Elizabeth! You shouldn’t ignore simple pain when you feel it. If you let the pain to stay longer and push yourself too hard, it might even get worse. Remember that your body is smarter than you. So if your body tells you that you’re in pain, stop and rest for a while. Don’t let your body endure too much pain. If necessary, go to your doctor to check what your real condition is.
    Kristal Byrnes @ COCO Ortho