A STRESS FRACTURE is a tiny crack in the surface of a bone, usually in the lower leg or the metatarsals of the foot. Stress fractures usually occur when runners are increasing the intensity and volume of their training over several weeks to several months. Muscle soreness and stiffness progress over this period, and a pinpoint pain develops on the sore bone. If you suspect you may have a fracture, see a doctor immediately, as further running will only worsen what may be a cracked bone. He or she can perform an x-ray which may show a crack; however, more often than not, a stress fracture won’t appear on an x-ray and your doctor should then refer you to a sports-oriented physician for a bone scan.
Treat with ice and anti-inflammatories, but keep in mind that stress fractures are not a self-diagnosis/self-treatment type of injury — a proper x-ray or bone scan is necessary to prescribe treatment. Depending on the location of the fracture, recommendations may differ. Consult your doctor about appropriate cross-training activities.