How long do I have to wait to run with a metatarsal stress fracture? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On the Run podcast.
This was a question I just got from a runner who’s had a metatarsal stress fracture who’s very frustrated, who’s trying to figure out how to get back to running. Now, he went and saw a doctor, he was told that he had a stress fracture and the doctor told him to take some time off of running. Of course, then he started watching some YouTube videos, started listening to some podcasts, and then asked me a very serious question, “How long do I have to wait with a metatarsal stress fracture?”
Well, that depends, and nobody ever likes this answer, but the real answer, if you’re a runner and you have a metatarsal stress fracture, the real answer is you have to wait until the metatarsal bone has enough stability, enough strength built in that metatarsal so that you can run without re-injury and that varies, there is no set timeline.
Think about a really simple analogy. How long does it take for you to earn enough money to retire? That depends, it depends upon how fast you spend money, it depends upon how fast you earn money. How long does it take to fix the car after you get in an automobile accident? That depends, do you have a little scratch on the bumper or did you roll it over on the freeway? Those things really do matter, in terms of what you’re doing to it, how much damage there is, how quickly it’s recovering and what you’re doing in the process. All of those are pieces that matter.
Now, this is true of all overtraining injuries. The rate at which you can get back to running depends upon what you’re doing to fuel the healing process, what you’re doing to actually remove stress from the injured tissue, and what you’re doing to maintain your fitness as you’re actually recovering.
Even if all things are equal, if you have a really minor stress fracture that’s barely a stress fracture, that’s really a bad stress reaction, and you have somebody exactly like you, who’s your twin, who’s identical to you, and you do all kinds of stuff to maintain your running fitness, you do all kinds of stuff to maintain your nutrition, the same way that you would when you’re training for a race, and your twin does nothing but sit on the couch and wait for the next doctor’s appointment, there’s going to be a huge difference in how fast you get back to running, how low your risk of re-injury is after you start running, and how fast you’re going to actually run once you resume running.
Those things matter, but you have to think about all of those pieces. Trying to get some arbitrary timeline from some other doctor is never going to get you back to running faster. If you haven’t seen it yet, if you have a stress fracture, if you’re trying to figure out what to do, check out the stress fracture masterclass.
You can get it free, it’s at the bottom of the show notes for this episode. You can go to docontherun.com/stressfracturemasterclass, you can also access it there. But you’ve got to figure out all these pieces if you have a stress fracture and you want to get back to running as quickly as possible.