Risk factors for stress fracture among young female cross-country runners

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health



Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Age Factors; Bone Density; Calcium, Dietary; Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal; Female; Fractures, Stress; Humans; Physical Endurance; Proportional Hazards Models; Questionnaires; Risk Factors; Running; United States


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Women's Studies


PURPOSE: To identify risk factors for stress fracture among young female distance runners.

METHODS: Participants were 127 competitive female distance runners, aged 18-26, who provided at least some follow-up data in a randomized trial among 150 runners of the effects of oral contraceptives on bone health. After completing a baseline questionnaire and undergoing bone densitometry, they were followed an average of 1.85 yr.

RESULTS: Eighteen participants had at least one stress fracture during follow-up. Baseline characteristics associated (PCONCLUSION: The results of this and other studies indicate that risk factors for stress fracture among young female runners include previous stress fractures, lower bone mass, and, although not statistically significant in this study, menstrual irregularity. More study is needed of the associations between stress fracture and age, calcium intake, and age at menarche. Given the importance of stress fractures to runners, identifying preventive measures is of high priority.

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Citation: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Sep;39(9):1457-63. Link to article on publisher's site

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