Bone Health, Vitamin D, and Running Woes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Anyone else celebrating today? I’m one-quarter Irish, which I blame for my inabilty to handle spicy foods and ridiculously pale skin, but also thank for my ability to hold my alcohol well and smize with ease (Tyra Banks reference). I can slightly stereotype since I am the type, right?

Green water fills allthe fountains in Savannah, GA for St. Patrick’s Day 2005

This post is a bit of a brain dump, but I hope you find it interesting and/or helpful in some way.

Lots of studying/homework and housework at house WHD this past weekend. This week in A&P I we’re learning about bone tissue and I found information on fractures and bone density very interesting and relative to my life. Granted, we all have bones so all of the information should have been relative, but you know what I mean…

In terms of fractures, I found it helpful to see a visual of how a fracture heals. I showed the illustration below from my textbook to WHH, who is on the mend from a stress fracture. Did you know that the process below takes 8-12 weeks? So just imagine that if you kept working out with a stress fracture or didn’t allow the proper time for it to heal how much longer it would take! WHH can feel some bumpy areas on his shin, which we’re betting are the result of the bone remodeling in step 4.

McGraw-Hill fracture healing

© McGraw-Hill

In terms of bone density, the book stressed the importance of continually placing stress on the bones in order for them to maintain their strength. While I knew this all along, I think that reading it in a scientific book, versus say a health magazine, makes it more valid in my mind. I know that sounds silly, but I think of my book as not having any fluff in it, so if the author is making a point about something, it’s quite relative and important to our physiology.

So how does stress impact bone strength? When you stress the bones through exercise and other weight-bearing activities, such as strength training, it stimulates bone cells to reinforce your bones, making them stronger and more dense. This is especially important as we get older because we reach our peak bone mass (maximum bone size) between the ages of 25 and 30. Reason #242 (of an infinite amount) to exercise today!

Speaking of bone health, check out how much my vitamin D level finally changed in the past 6 weeks!

Vitamin D Changes June 2013-March 2014

I’ve had chronically low vitamin D, to the point of being deficient back in June. Despite taking 1,000 IU every day since June, my level barely moved June and January. Then, at the advice of the chiropractor I was seeing for tennis elbow treatment, I started taking 10,000 IU every day. He suggested I take it for six weeks, then have my blood re-tested. If it had at that point risen, I was then to reduce the amount back to 5,000 IU.

I’m so happy with the results. I’m back down to about 4,000 IU/day (I only have 2,000 IU and 1,000 IU pills and 5 pills/day seemed a bit excessive). Vitamin D is important for a variety of reasons, bone health being only the tip of the iceberg. And the fact that we use it as a treatment for metastatic colon cancer only drives home the importance of it for me.

Running-wise, it was a bit of a frustrating weekend with my plantar fasciitis after such a good week last week! Maybe I pushed it too much with the amount of running and then adding in the real shoes?

I headed out Saturday intent on moving to stage 8 of Return to Running, but things were not good from the start. As soon as I walked outside my heel was bothering me (out of the blue—felt fine all day prior!). I decided to tough it out a bit to see if I was just sore. I did my 5 minute warm-up walk, then tried to start a slow jog. That lasted all of 10 seconds, and I walked home, for a total of 7 minutes. I was sore from doing Julie’s lower body workout on Friday, so I chalked it up to that.

Walking 3-15-14

The same thing happened when I headed out on Sunday. As soon as I got out the door, my heel hurt. So frustrating! I did tough it out, though, because I noticed my other heel was bothering me as well (when it never really has), so I figured I was maybe just still sore. Once I had been out for about 10 minutes I felt pretty good. Still, don’t want to be doing more harm than good.

Return to Running 3-16-14

I’m still using my old orthotics in my shoes, while breaking in my new orthotics walking around the house, so I wonder if my feet are getting confused between the two and I’m making things worse by switching. I used KT tape both times and I that think for the first time, it made things worse, so the KT tape is staying off for now. I’m hoping to get in another session mid-week using my new orthotics and without any KT tape.

3-16-14 running splits

Not bad pacing for walking more than running.

Questions: Have you had to heal from a stress fracture? Are you worried about your bone health or Vitamin D? What do you do to try to keep your bones healthy? Have you had an injury that just kept lingering and you didn’t know what to do to move on?

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5 thoughts on “Bone Health, Vitamin D, and Running Woes

  1. I often wonder if I should be taking Vitamin D for my ‘stress reaction’ in my foot.. might not be a bad idea. Be careful with the hell pain.. that’s how my plantar fasciits started:(

    • Hi Kristin! I thought I got enough Vitamin D from my diet, but I guess it wasn’t enough for me. The good stuff is from the sun, but when you live in the northern hemisphere, and especially the north part of it, you don’t get enough to synthesize enough all the time. Plus, with a family history of melanoma, I tend to avoid the sun. You could always ask your doctor to test you. I was surprised how low I was.

      Yes, I’m actually getting over plantar fasciitis, which started back in September. Podiatrist, ART, and PT, and here I am. How long did your PF take to heal?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. The bone remodeling in your photo is what I remember seeing in the x ray when I was at the doctor in November. The fracture wasn’t visible in the x ray but the beginnings of bone remodeling were–stuff appeared to be building up around the spot. For me, I am just now really feeling like healing has taken place, and it’s four months later. I’m sure I ran on it when I shouldn’t have, though, delaying things. But I’m giving myself a break because it’s so hard to judge when running is ok.

  3. […] 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day, my levels dipped back down! Do you remember when I was able to get it up to 61 ng/ml? Now look at it! Back down to […]

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