Using bone's adaptation ability to lower the incidence of stress fractures

Charles Milgrom, Ariel Simkin, Arieh Eldad, Meir Nyska, Aharon Finestone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In three prospective epidemiologic studies of the effect of pre- military-induction sport activities on the incidence of lower extremity stress fractures during infantry basic training, recruits who played ball sports (principally basketball) regularly for at least 2 years before basic training had a significantly lower incidence of stress fractures (13.2%, 16.7%, and 3.6% in the three studies, respectively) than recruits who did not play ball sports (28.9%, 27%, and 18.8%, respectively). Preinduction running was not related to the incidence of stress fracture. To assess the tibial strain environment during these sport activities, we made in vivo strain measurements on three male volunteers from the research team. Peak tibial compression and tension strain and strain rates during basketball reached levels 2 to 5.5 times higher than during walking and about 10% to 50% higher than during running. The high bone strain and strain rates that occurred in recruits while playing basketball in the years before military induction may have increased their bone stiffness, according to Wolff's Law. The stiffer bone could tolerate higher stresses better, resulting in lower strains for a given activity and a lower incidence of stress fractures during basic training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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