Did you know that during a 10-mile run, your feet make approximately 15,000 strikes with the ground at a force of three to four times the body’s weight.
Stress fractures can happen in endurance athletes when too much pressure is placed on the same spot on a bone in the legs and feet of runners and athlete over long periods of time. Over time, the pressure from small regular impacts can weaken the bone making it more likely to crack along the surface. These cracks although very small at first, can get bigger and bigger if they are not given a chance to heal.
Endurance athletes make their bodies work very hard in order to become stronger and faster. Whilst doing strength and conditioning work outs at the gym, they may perform the same exercise over and over again to become better at it and build larger muscles for power and speed. Fractures are more likely to happen when the muscles get tired. When the body is tired, stress which would normally be absorbed by the muscle goes into the bone instead. The long thin bones on the top of the foot as well as the heel bone which absorbs the impact of every step when running are more at risk of fracturing in this way.
What can you do to make your bones stronger?
If you’re an endurance athlete who runs, there are ways of reducing the risk of suffering from a stress fracture or reduce the likelihood of you break a bone if you fall of your bike.
This may sound contradictory but physical activity is an important part of building strong bones. Research suggests that bones that aren’t used much can become thinner and weaker over time, while bones that are used regularly during exercise become stronger and thicker from the stress of your muscles pulling on your bones. The stronger the bone, the less likely it is to break in an accident. Lifting weights and other high intensity activities are known to be good for building muscle and power but they are also good for building strong bones.
The endurance athlete needs to focus on their nutrition if they want to make sure that the exercise and weight training they do actually strengthens their bones and doesn’t stress them leading to fractures. You need to give your bones need the right minerals and vitamins in the form of calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium is used by most cells in your body to signal different processes. It’s also what makes your bones strong and hard. Most of the calcium in your body, almost 99%, is stored in your bones. Your bones act like a storage warehouse, storing extra nutrients so they can supply then to your body when needed this includes calcium. The average adult needs around 1000mg of calcium each day. Good sources include comes from dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and ice cream as well as dark-green vegetables such as spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin D helps to control how calcium and other minerals are both used in the body and stored in the bones. Vitamin D food sources include liver, whole eggs, and certain fish. You will also get Vitamin D directly from sunlight on your skin.
So if I asked you how well are you eating to make sure your skeleton stays injury free through all your training and racing? What would your answer be?
Do you want to know more about how to optimise your body composition, go faster for longer, recover faster and minimise your risk of injury? If the answer’s ‘Yes’ the come and say hello on the Facebook group Eating to Win and find out more.