I wonder had Elvis lived to see his golden years, would he have experienced any issues with his pelvis? As he died suddenly in 1977 at the age of 42, we'll never know. I rather think Elvis....young Elvis, not fat Elvis....would have been a pretty good endurance/multi-sport athlete. Again, we'll never know but I'm pretty confident he would have had a really cool speed suit.
Well, I have a stress fracture now. A nasty one. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the worst, I was told this ranks as a 4 or 5. Let me remind everyone, as you read the report below, that I ran a 19:36 5K with this injury. I say that again to state my Neanderthal-like pain tolerance and my Neanderthal-like stupidity in even running it. Click on image for larger view of the reports below:
So why do I have a stress fracture? And just out of the blue with no other warning signs? I can think of three possible reasons. The reason for my stress fracture may be a combination of all three. Let's break these down:
- Over Training: The later half of the 2010 season I was really on fire and competing at the best level yet in my comeback to the sport which started in 2007 after being diagnosed with low testosterone. I took a few weeks off in November and then started up base building training in December incorporated with some speed work. When February hit, my running mileage increased from the 25-30 mile/week range to 50-55 mile/week range. Yes, this is way above the "Don't Increase by More than 10% per week" rule. However, I was experiencing no issues with fatigue or muscle soreness. The pain first surfaced the Monday after a 10.5mi Saturday run and a 8mi Sun run/30mi bike. Could the heavier run mileage have done me in?
- Assessment: High probability. But it is damn disappointing if this is indeed the case. I'm a guy who ran 100+ mile weeks through college at the high end and 70+ miles routinely. Being in the 50-mile range should not have proved to be a detriment for me now. Especially since I was thinking about concentrating solely on running during the 2012 season and let triathlons take a back burner for one year. Now, I wonder if I just need to keep the multi-sport lifestyle and keep my running to a minimum.
- Endurance Athletes & Bone Density: There was a recent article on this topic in which researchers have studied endurance athletes and whether or not they have a higher rate of osteoporosis (thinning of bone tissue) than the average sedentary person. Studies have shown that perhaps cyclists develop more instances of low bone density than sedentary people and suggest that the lack of weight bearing activity is the cause.
- Assessment: Probable, but not sure this is in direct proportion to my issue. I had a bone density scan in 2007 and it was perfectly normal. Yes, I should probably get another as a lot can change in ones body in four years. However, the reason I feel this my be a indirect, rather than direct cause of my pelvis stress fracture is this. When reading the research behind the aforementioned article it states: Activities that produce high strain magnitudes and high strain rates distributed unevenly across the bone provide the greatest osteogenic stimulus. Furthermore, the degree of mechanical strain applied to bone in weight-bearing activities increases proportionally with increased ground reaction forces. Evidence from cross-sectional studies of athletes from a variety of sports, including gymnastics, volleyball, karate and running, supports the notion that bone undergoes a positive adaptive response to high impact activities. Intervention studies, most of which are reported for women, have shown increases in bone mass induced by high strain activities such as jumping and running in children as well as older adults. In stark contrast, weightless environments experienced by astronauts or individuals participating in bed-rest studies cause rapid and marked bone loss. Similarly, non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming and cycling afford few, if any, benefits to bone health in young adults. So, two of the three activities that we train for in triathlons are non-weight bearing and afford no benefit to bone health. How much of this is offset by running? I would like to see a study of bone health for triathletes.
- Low Testosterone: Osteoporosis is a significant problem in older men, 30% of all hip fractures occur in men and the mortality rate following hip fracture exceeds that of women. Testosterone is thought to be important in the development of peak bone mass but its role in age-related bone loss is not established. What is known is that osteoporosis is a significant complication of low testosterone. As mentioned before (and long time readers know), I was diagnosed with low testosterone in 2007. Normal total serum testosterone levels for a person of my age are 600 - 900 ng/dL. Mine in 2007? 70 ng/dL.
- Assessment: Probable and the most worrisome. A bone density test should be able to confirm or alleviate my worries with this possibility. Am I destined for a life of stress fractures? I think I should be able to stave off any such worry with the right amount of exercise, testosterone & calcium replacement therapies. But this possibility certainly will never be eliminated. To be honest, my physical therapist stated he is 95% certain this fracture was not related to bone density as he saw no indications of osteoporosis. So, I may be worrying over this possibility a little too much. We'll see if my primary physician is agreeable to scheduling a bone density scan and we'll go from there.
It is possible to acquire calcium from other food sources but remember that milk, specifically, also contains vitamin D, vitamin A, protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12 and phosphorus. Each of these 9 essential nutrients play a different role in your body to help regulate body processes and maintain good health.
For those of you not too keen on milk, here are some other food sources that contain calcium:
This means the 10K in London I have been looking so forward to, is to be missed. Additionally, the following events are in jeopardy of being missed this season:
Apr 30 - Iron Mountain Du; Arkadelphia, Arkansas (USAT) 2mi run, 11mi bike, 2mi run
May 1 - Iron Mountain Tri; Arkadelphia, Arkansas (USAT) - 880 yard swim, 16.2mi bike, 3mi run
May 14 - Lakes to Pines Triathlon; Park Rapids, MN 500 yard swim, 14.7mi bike, 5K run
May 28 (signed up) - Apple Duathlon; Sartell, MN (USAT) - 5k run, 33k bike, 5k run
Jun 5 (signed up) - Pigman Sprint Triathlon; Cedar Rapids, IA (USAT) - Swim .5K, Bike 25K, Run 5K
If my recovery is to be 6-8 weeks, then I would be able to start training again sometime in mid-May. So realistically my possible first event back would be:
Jul 2 (signed up) - Minneman Triathlon; Oak Grove, MN (USAT) - 0.3 Mile Swim, 13mi bike, 3 mi run
There will certainly be up days and down days as I struggle through this setback. I know I will be blogging about progress, and such as that is all I can do. And frankly, I could use any helpful comments from people who have suffered from stress fractures as well as positive input to keep me sane. I received a nice Tweet from Mr. William Jenks that lays down my approach to this injury: Bummer about stress fracture. Recover like you train.
Evaluation and Management of Stress Fractures of the Pelvis and Sacrum (Ortho Super Site)
Osteoporosis -Maybe You Have It But Don't Know It (John Post, MD)