Effect of fatiguing exercise on longitudinal bone strain as related to stress fracture in humans

David P Fyhrie, C. Milgrom, S. J. Hoshaw, A. Simkin, S. Dar, D. Drumb, D. B. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Muscular fatigue in the training athlete or military recruit has been hypothesized to cause increased bone strain that may contribute to the development of a stress fracture. Under normal circumstances, muscles exert a protective effect by contracting to reduce bending strains on cortical bone surfaces. In vivo strain studies in dogs show that muscle fatigue following strenuous exercise elevates bone strain and changes strain distribution. However, a similar experiment has yet to be performed in humans. The purpose of this work was to test the hypothesis in humans that strenuous fatiguing exercise causes an elevation in bone strain. It was also hypothesized that this elevation is greater in younger people than in older people due to the decline in muscle strength and endurance that normally occurs with age. To test these hypotheses, strain in the tibiae of seven human volunteers was measured during walking before and after a period of fatiguing exercise. Neither hypothesis was sustained. Post-hoc analysis of the strain data suggests that strain rate increases after fatigue with a greater increase in younger as opposed to older persons. Although not conclusive, this suggests that it is strain rate, rather than strain magnitude, that may be causal for stress fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-665
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Bone strain
  • Fatigue
  • Stress fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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