Warmer temperatures and brighter days may be calling your name, motivating you to get outside for a walk or run.
But tread carefully—it’s been a long winter, and your bones might not be ready for the impact of daily runs on concrete just yet.
Along with rejuvenation, spring is the season of stress fractures.
Stress fractures are small breaks or cracks caused by repeated impact on a bone that’s getting weak from too much use (or not enough). Feet and legs are particularly vulnerable, especially if you’ve been sitting on your sofa through the winter.
Pain, swelling, and bruising are the symptoms, so if you notice any of these, it’s good to stop what you’re doing and get some rest. Ice and rest are how to handle these common injuries.
When your body is inactive, it gets weaker. That’s why injuries are so common this time of year, particularly in older individuals, who inevitably get weaker with age.
But don’t worry. You can better avoid a stress fracture by easing into activity and giving your bones a chance to strengthen and adjust to your new demands.
So, instead of going out for a jog or hardcore power walk, start a little more leisurely. After a few days or a week, slowly pick up the pace and duration. It won’t take long for your bones to realize they’ve got a little more work to do and make the adjustment.
Wearing well-fitting supportive shoes can also help lower the risk for a stress fracture. If you’ve been wearing the same pair of running shoes for the last two or three years, it’s probably time for a new pair.
Although it’s enticing, don’t opt for the cheapest pair you can find. It’ll be a recipe for injury. Go to a specialty shoe store that focuses on running and walking shoes to help you find the best fit for your needs. Trust me—it’s a worthwhile investment.
Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.