How to heal a stress fracture

How to heal a stress fracture - main image

Recovering from a stress fracture can be a mentally tough healing process. Here are our best tips.

Stress fractures – tiny breaks in the bone caused by repetitive, impactful activities like running – can really disrupt your training schedule. Often, they occur around your foot and ankle. They usually clear up on their own, but you have to rest, which can be difficult if you exercise for your mental health.

How can I make a stress fracture heal?

That depends on a number of factors, including your body weight, your daily activity levels, and whether you have low levels of vitamin D or osteoporosis. However, WebMD recommends:

  • Rest. Avoid weight-bearing activities. Wear a stiff-soled, supportive shoe if necessary.
  • Ice. To ease swelling, ice the area for 24 to 48 hours. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply for 20 minutes at a time. Never put ice directly on your skin.
  • Compression. Wrap a soft bandage around the area to ease swelling.
  • Elevation. Use pillows to raise your foot or leg higher than your heart.

As well as these, it’s really important to see your doctor. If you believe you have a stress fracture, a doctor needs to use a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to do a bone scan and see where the break is. Without proper treatment, it could break completely.

Overall, it takes around 6-8 weeks for most stress fractures to heal properly. However, you have to make sure that you don’t start doing the activity that caused the stress fracture again within those 2 months, and you shouldn’t rush into it once that time is up. You could cause damage that never heals properly or a repeat injury – 60% of stress fractures occur in people who have had one before.


It only takes a few weeks from the point the stress fracture occurred to the time when you can get back to some physical activity. However, it’s important to give yourself enough time for your stress fracture to heal. If you don’t reduce stress – that is, physical stress – stress fractures tend to occur again and again. It’s all about patience.


Do stress fractures ever fully heal?

Yes, as long as they’re given enough time to and a doctor looks at them with imaging tests to ensure that the stress fractures diagnosed properly. You can also look into paying for physical therapy.

How can I prevent stress fractures?

You need to make sure your muscles are conditioned properly before you start a new exercise or increase the intensity of an existing one. There are also additional risk factors for stress factors, including smoking, drinking more than 10 alcoholic drinks a week, or running long distances.

What else can I do to help the recovery process?

You can use other methods, like medication, to relieve pain. You can also use nonsurgical treatments like a cane or crutches for support or casts to keep your stress fracture in the right position throughout the stress fracture recovery process.

How can I avoid stress fractures before they occur?

Practice strength training to help prevent early muscle fatigue, and to help prevent the loss of bone density that comes with aging. Follow a healthy diet full of calcium and vitamin D foods that will keep your bones strong.

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