Risk factors for stress fractures in female track-and-field athletes: A retrospective analysis

K. L. Bennell, S. A. Malcolm, S. A. Thomas, P. R. Ebeling, P. R. McCrory, J. D. Wark, P. D. Brukner

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The incidence and nature of stress fractures and the relationship of potential risk factors to stress-fracture history were investigated retrospectively in a group of 53 female competitive track-and-field athletes. Forty-five stress fractures, diagnosed by clinical findings and bone scan, radiograph, or CT scan, were reported in 22 women. Tibial fractures were the most common (33%). There was no significant difference in bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and tibia/fibula or in percentage body fat and total lean mass when comparing the groups with and without a stress-fracture history. Athletes with a past stress fracture were significantly older at menarche and were more likely to have experienced a history of menstrual disturbance (p < 0.05). Analysis of dietary behavior found that athletes with stress fractures scored significantly higher on the EAT-40 test and were more likely to engage in restrictive eating patterns and dieting. Multiple logistic regression showed that athletes with a history of oligomenorrhea were six times more likely to have sustained a stress fracture in the past, while those who were careful about their weight were eight times more likely. Prevention and treatment of stress fractures in female athletes should include a thorough assessment of menstrual characteristics and dietary patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Menstrual status
  • Stress fractures

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