3 Dietary Changes That Can Help Athletes Avoid Stress Fractures

A stress fracture is a broken bone just like a traumatic fracture, but it is the result of small repeated traumas instead of one big trauma, and it is very common in athletes. Depending on the severity and location of the break, a stress fracture may be treated with anything from rest to orthopedic surgery. No matter how it's treated, though, the fact remains that one stress fracture increases your risk for another stress fracture somewhere down the line. Therefore, it's best to avoid them altogether. You may believe that by getting a lot of calcium in your diet, you're doing your best to protect your bones, but there are other changes to your diet that you may not be aware of that can also affect your bone health. Check out a few dietary changes that can help you prevent stress fractures.

Eat Like a Horse

No, really – consider adding more oats and other grains like millet and barley to your diet. These foods contain silica, a trace mineral that has a positive effect on your bones. Silica helps strengthen your bones, and connective tissue, making it less likely that your repetitive motions during training will add up to a sidelining stress fracture.

Silica is also good for your skin, hair, and nails. By upping your silica intake, you should notice that your skin becomes smoother, your hair shinier, and your nails harder and stronger. Not only will your bones be hard enough to get through training and win your games, matches, or meets, you'll look great while you're doing it.

Go Bananas for Sweet Potatoes

Did you know that if there's too much acid in your body, your body will extract potassium and other alkaline materials from your bones? It's true; and after a while, borrowing potassium from your bones will diminish their strength and lead to any number of bone related problems, including an increased risk of stress factors. The answer is to keep your body from leeching potassium from your bones by making sure that you provide it with plenty of non-bone based potassium for it to use.

You may immediately think "bananas!" Bananas are often recommended as a great source of potassium, and it's true that they do contain 422 mg of potassium per banana – plus they're an easy, convenient snack. But if you really want to add a potassium powerhouse to your diet, try eating more sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain an amazing 694 mg of potassium – more than most other potassium-rich foods. Tomato paste, beets, and white potatoes are also great sources of potassium.

Spice it up With Vitamin K

If you take calcium supplements for your bones, you're hopefully aware that in order to get the best benefit from them, you need to also incorporate some Vitamin D. In fact, many calcium supplements contain vitamin D as well. Milk also contains vitamin D to help activate the calcium. What is less well known is that vitamin K is also beneficial in activating calcium, and your bones will benefit most if you increase your intake of both vitamins.

Luckily, if you like flavorful food, incorporating more vitamin K in your diet is easy. Vitamin K is found in a number of different spices. Basil contains more than 100% of vitamin K per tablespoon. Sage and thyme have similar values. Even fresh parsley makes a good vitamin K booster – it contains more than 80% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K. If you're not into herbs, though, upping your intake of green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, as well as salad vegetables like scallions and endive, can more than do the job of adding vitamin K to your diet.

As an athlete, you have to take your bones seriously – allow them to become compromised, and you'll soon be in no shape to compete. A few simple and delicious additions to your diet now can protect you from pain, inconvenience, and even surgery later on. For treatment of an existing stress fracture or for more ideas on how to prevent one, visit a medical site, such as http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com.