Women More Stress Fractured: August 19, 2013

The science of a stress fracture. Experts are breaking it down using detailed motion analysis. These troublesome injuries are the bane of many an athlete.

“Stress fracture is a small crack that can occur over time by accumulating trauma, usually overuse,” says Dr. James Bynum, orthopedic sports surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

So it’s no surprise what sports are most problematic.

“We see it much more common in runners or triathletes. It can be seen in basketball players but not quite as often,” says Dr. Bynum.

But this recent study of almost 2,000 military cadets is turning up some new findings. That the angle of the knee during a foot landing increases the likelihood of a stress fracture and that women are three-times more likely to get them.

While weakness and overuse have long been associated with stress injuries, this was the first documentation of knee rotation and angle as a risk factor. The good news is that practicing better landing techniques may prevent harm.

“This is where it would be helpful to be referred to a professional physical therapist who could actually look at how you’re running. I can see that your knees are turning inwards or your feet are turning outwards or you are very flat footed or you’re a very high arched runner and then they can help you work on those things,” says Lee Memorial Health System physical therapist Kath Kinross, DPT.

In addition to biomechanical problems, women may be more ‘stressed’ because of hormone levels, diet and decreasing bone mass. All things that should be kept in check to remain active, healthy and fracture free.