Bone stress fractures are caused by repetitive forces that are beyond what the bone can normally handle. During times of activity, bone cells are resorbed and then replaced during periods of rest. If the bone is unable to balance the rate of cell resorption and cellular regrowth, it becomes fatigued and develops tiny cracks. If the repetitive force continues to be applied to the bone, the tiny cracks progress into a stress fracture.
Stress bone fractures typically occur in the bones of the legs and feet. The individuals most at risk for developing stress bone fractures are those who participate in sports, have active lifestyles or suddenly increase physical activity. For instance, someone who regularly jogs is at a greater risk for a bone stress fracture than an individual with a more sedentary pastime. Individuals who suffer from flat feet, high-foot arches or degenerative bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, are also at increased risk for bone stress fractures.
Slowly building an exercise routine and adding low-impact activities to that routine help to prevent repetitive forces from causing bone stress fractures. Individuals with orthopedic conditions can also decrease their risk of suffering from stress fractures by wearing proper shoe supports and including plenty of calcium and other bone-nourishing nutrients in their diets.