How to Survive an Ankle Stress Fracture

I’ve talked a few times on here about my ankle stress fracture. However, I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on the topic of having a stress fracture. Mainly because… Having one is hard. Because it’s not broken, it’s just thinking about breaking, and people don’t understand what you mean when you say that you have “a stress fracture.” So here’s how to survive an ankle stress fracture – or any other type of stress fracture.We all know what a bone fracture is when the bone has completely broken. However the term ‘stress fracture’ seems to be a little less known, or at least the people I had to tell the reasoning behind the huge boot on my foot, weren’t the most aware of a stress fracture.

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone or even just severe bruising within a bone. Overuse of repetitive activity typically causes stress fractures. The most common athletes who end up with stress fractures are those who participate in high impact sports like track, cross-country, soccer, and basketball.

Stress fractures can also occur due to improper equipment – worn-out running shoes (this is what mine was caused by) -, poor conditioning, change of surface, and bad technique.

Now that we’ve briefly talked about what causes them, here’s how to survive them.

I’m not going to write about my journey to recovery from a stress fracture because I’m still in the middle of that journey. I can’t even run yet. I’m stuck with walking, but at least I can go walking now. We’ve already made quite a bit of progress. Instead, this post is about how I’ve managed to keep my sanity during this horrible process.

Learn to Love Your Walking Boot:

My walking boot and I spent an entire month together. Wearing it every day, all day, only taking it off to go to bed. I will admit though now that I don’t have it anymore, I kind of miss it. Spending 5 minutes every morning getting it all adjusted, having to take it off to put jeans on, just to have to turn around and strap it back on.

I also have these slippers that helped make up the difference of height, so I didn’t have to wear a tennis shoe all the time.

Become Numb to Pain:

Depending on how severe your stress fracture is, you might feel pain for a week, a couple of weeks, or longer. I felt pain for the first two weeks, and then I felt phantom pains, and still get phantom pains once in a while, but not as often as I used to.

After a couple of days, you get used to the pain and barely feel it. It’s like a paper-cut. You don’t notice it 99% of the time until you mess with lemon juice or hand sanitizer, and then you remember it’s there.

Find Some New Hobbies:

During my total downtime – AKA when I was only allowed to walk to get something to eat and to use the restroom – I had to find ways to entertain myself.

I picked up latch-hooking and started practicing my calligraphy again. I also completely re-branded the blog, and re-launched it, because not like I had anything else to do.

Maybe you could pick up knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, adopting 60 cats, and give yourself the title of ‘old cat lady’…

Find Your People on Social Media:

Most of the people I follow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages/groups I’m apart of, are for runners, or people who workout in general.

This was super helpful during this time, because you see them going for runs, beating personal records, discovering new trails to run, and you cheer them on. You also cry on the inside because you’re kind of jealous, but you double tap that photo, re-tweet that tweet, or share that post, and pretend like it’s all good.

Realize This Injury was for the Best:

There are stages to every injury no matter what it is. The five stages of grief, are the same stages you go through when you get injured.

First, you go through denial.

Despite the fact I felt like my bone could pop through the top of my foot, I was still in denial of how severely I was injured. Even after being told I had to wear a walking boot for a month, I thought I’ll be out of it in two weeks. Then you start to realize that you’ll be down for a minimum of 6 weeks, and won’t be able to start back to full training – in my case – 12 weeks.

Which brings us to our next stage… Anger.

Realizing I would be down for six weeks, and can’t even think about running until 10-12 weeks; it made me angry. I spent the first three days with my walking boot being mad at the world. Granted the anger stage never lasts long, and then you move to the next stage.

Here you’ll do anything to get back to training sooner… The bargaining stage.

At this point, you’ll do anything to get up and move. This phase lasted a week for me. I got up every day and worked out 45 minutes a day doing Blogilates workouts that didn’t involve needing my ankles – which narrowed it down to a few workouts.

After realizing how stupid I was for still pushing my body when it was begging for a break – it almost broke just for this break. I moved on to the next stage… depression.

Granted I wasn’t technically depressed about my injury. I just felt sluggish, and tired. Going from getting up 5-6 days a week to coming to a complete halt from training. That was a huge shock to not just my body, but also my mind.

I only allowed myself to stay in this mindset for about three-four days. Then I snapped myself out of it. After all, throwing a pity party for myself wasn’t going to make my ankle heal any faster either. Which is when I finally moved to the final stage of the five stages of an injury.

That my lovelies is acceptance.

Once I finally accepted that I was injured, and I would be down for six weeks, I felt better.

I no longer denied the fact that I wouldn’t be back to full training for three months.

I didn’t feel angry for ignoring the signs my body gave me before the injury.

I wasn’t trying to bargain my way out of wearing the boot, taking the downtime, or anything else.

I told the pity party of one that they didn’t have to go home, but they couldn’t stay here.

I finally accepted that, yeah, I might be injured. I might be stuck in a heavy walking boot. I’m down for six weeks. Won’t be back to full training until 12 weeks. However, at least I can be back to training in 12 weeks. Because I could’ve fractured my ankle, and been down much longer.

So although stress fractures are horrible, take the time to rest, you’re body needs it. That’s why you’re injured, it’s your body going ‘I need a break’.

What’s your way of coping with an injury?

 

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

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