Physically Recovering

I’ve gotten many questions about my recovery. Quite honestly I’m going to take close to (if not more) of the full eight weeks that a stress fracture normally requires. I can provide everything I did and give the timeline of my events but everyone heals differently.  I hope you heal faster.  Even if we both had the same exact injury, we would heal at different rates. Looking back, I can reflect on what caused me more time to heal. I can also reflect on what helped me recover quicker.

I made this in 2011 during my only other stress fracture.  I'm not gearing up for cross country season but it's still appropriate now.

I made this in 2011 during my only other stress fracture. I’m not gearing up for cross country season but it’s still appropriate now.

That being said, first I took a lot more rest.  I’ll be the first to admit that this is the first injury that I didn’t feel pressured to workout and cross train.  I think resting more allowed me to recover a little bit faster.  Instead of spending time cross training, I spent time off my feet.  Do I regret less cross training?  No, not at all.  I didn’t stress that I didn’t work out consistently.  I did feel really lazy and wondered how people did this year round but I didn’t stress about it. The first month I had absolutely no craving to run or woke out. To be honest, the second month I’ve been much more antsy.  (I have been using the AMT when I do cross train)

I also took vitamins.  I feel like I’m currently taking a lot more vitamins than I’m used too.  I know it’s not a substitute for proper nutrition and I’m not meaning for it to be.  I’m enhancing the amount of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium I’m getting for bone growth.  I’m taking a generic GNC calcium and bone health (no,  not sponsored…that awkward moment when I show a product I bought…versus getting for free).   When I was not injured, I took one daily.  Now that I’m injured I take 2.  I think any runner could benefit from taking a bone supplement.  I’m also taking a multivitamin (something I’ve always done).

Third, I’m using Epsom salt baths.  When I recover from a hard run, recover from an injury or just want to relax, Epsom salt baths have always been my go too.  I always feel better after I take one so I try to make time most nights.

Around week 6 of recovery, I started to use the Alter G treadmill.  I did a couple of posts about it earlier in the week.  (Alter G Part 1, Alter G part 2).  I think slowly adding weight back to my foot is allowing me to heal and begin something that resembles running.

Other then I’m just relaxing and taking it day by day.  I’m focusing on other aspects and not pushing my limits. I think people underestimate what proper rest can do.  I honestly think if I had tried to go to the gym everyday then I would be even less recovered than I am now.

Why am I healing so slowly? 

I think I was set back a week or two when I ran that mile three weeks ago. Despite my doctor clearing me, I don’t think my body was ready. After that mile, I felt as if I had been set back (pain wise) a week. It’s important for me to realize the average stress fracture takes about 8 weeks to heal. In a few days I will be at the 8 week mark. So while I feel like I’m making very slow progress, I’m making average progress. With average there are people who are above average and people who are below average.  This has been my longest injury period but honestly I’m in the best mental state.  I’m not stress, worried about fitness or worried about running.  I know my time to run will come back.  I just hope it’s soon!

Question for you: When do you take time away from your sport or working out program?


14 responses

  1. Your drawing is super cool and still really appropriate even though you don’t run XC anymore.

    I have been taking epsom salt baths lately as well and really like them. I found some lavender scented ones and it helps my legs feel fresh the next day, but also helps me sleep better.

  2. There is so much pressure on runners to keep cross training through injuries that I think often people end up doing so much more harm than good because they start way over training in an effort to “maintain fitness through cross training.” You are doing a great job of listening to your body. Thanks for sharing all of these posts about recovery – I hope they can inspire others who are injured to actually take the appropriate rest and self care they need to get back to 100% instead of cross training into the ground.

  3. I read somewhere that most injuries (obviously not stress fractures) heal with 9 days of rest. But when do runners really take 9 full days of rest? They bike, they walk, they do everything else…and the body doesn’t heal. In the great scheme of things what’s 9 days?! But I’m just as bad as the rest of them.
    It’s funny how worked up us runners get when we can’t run or workout…and then you look at the rest of the non-running population and, like you said, it’s baffling how they don’t get antsy and crazy. But it’s what you’re used to I suppose.

  4. Great question…..I always take two weeks off of running after a marathon and try to do only minimal cross training during that time. I also love Epsom Salts baths and they always make my muscles feel better. Good luck with your recovery.

  5. Two thumbs up for the throwback drawing! When my racing season ended in August, I took a few weeks to do what I wanted. If that meant running, then I’d run–on my own terms. If that meant biking, then I’d bike. Swimming didn’t (and still doesn’t) seem too appealing. 😉 It’s important to take mini-breaks to rest, reset, and avoid burnout.

  6. Seeing that drawing made my look on my computer for the paint application…I cannot find it. Windows 8 is a joke 😦 I have never been diagnosed with a stress fracture but have felt pain in feet and ankles that have made me not able to run at all. I am a fan of the elliptical for maintaining run fitness. I think you’ve been smart and your recovery will allow you to have a great Spring racing season.

  7. What did you stress in your foot? I had heal stress fracture end of Jan. I’ve been battling with recovering from it since then. Now have plantar fasciitis and tendinitis. My foot has just never felt right and since its now been so many months I fear I will never be the same.

  8. Unfortunately it’s usually too late by the time we take breaks – the damage is already done. I’m glad you’re being really cautious and are aware that even that one mile was really pushing it and you’re going to avoid it again until you’re truly ready. I can’t imagine how frustrating and painful a stress fracture is but I’m glad to see you’re being smart about it

  9. Taking longer break from working out not intentionally but forced by injuries sucks. Your approach to recovery is admirable, though. I’ve had to take months off of running due to an at first wrongly diagnosed injury twice before. And the first time around I didn’t have a gym membership yet so the only exercise I did was go for walks. In hindsight I’m thankful I learned this and got over the antsiness but it’s hard at first.
    I’ve seen many other bloggers ‘in recovery’ from injuries still work out very similar to before. From my experience that really lengthens the process so I’m keeping my fingers crossed your relaxed approach will let you heal fast!

  10. Hi Hollie, I really enjoy your blog. Glad that you are healing and back to running outside again! I have a question for you, did you run on the AlterG at 90. 95. or 100% before running outside? I am rehabbing a weird injury that is soft tissue, and have been doing runs on the AlterG at 70, 75, 80%. Last time at the PT office he had me on 85% and said to try running outside. I did a mile on a regular treadmill and am still paranoid….

    • thank you Chelle! You know that was my orignal plan but I felt really good so ended up running outdoors before that. I ran up to 82% body weight before running outdoors. I think if I had started running sooner I would have worked up that far. I ended up waiting around 8 weeks to run again from the point of initial break.

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