Understanding the Causes of Stress Fractures in Runners


Dubai UAE, With the weather improving and the racing season gaining momentum, endurance athletes including runners, cyclists & triathletes would start ramping up their training, increasing frequency, intensity and mileage. However, it is important to prepare yourself for Stress fractures that are an unfortunate reality in the world of endurance sports, especially in the lower extremities of runners. Running can result in forces applied to the bone and joints in excess of 6-8 times an athlete’s body weight. Over extended periods of time, and without proper recovery between workouts, these forces can result in stress fractures, most commonly in the pelvis, leg, and foot.

Key factors to consider

The precipitating factors of stress fractures are multiple but typically result from repetitive high impact activities, such as running & cycling (or both in the case of triathletes) especially when there has been a sudden increase in intensity, duration, or frequency of workouts without proper recovery.

For appointments with Dr a Sports medicine specialist- Click HERE or use Live Chat/Message or call 04 581 5400 

Training errors such as poor running mechanics, improper shoe selection, and muscular fatigue can also predispose a runner to fractures. Each of these factors can cause excessive mechanical forces to be concentrated at key locations in the lower extremities, thereby exceeding the stress-bearing capacity of the bone. Other factors can also predispose an athlete to stress fractures. Hormonal and nutritional imbalances are thought to be responsible for the high rate of these injuries found in female athletes. This is often referred to as the “female athlete triad”: (eating disorder, disruption of normal menstrual cycles, and osteoporosis).


The tibia (shin) is the most commonly involved bone, while the bones of the foot represented the next most common location. Stress fractures of the hip, although uncommon, are worth special mention. Hip stress fractures represent a “high risk” location for this injury as it can easily progress to a complete fracture which may require surgery, potentially resulting in significant disability!

Bone tenderness is the most obvious finding on physical examination. Superficial bones like the shin may also demonstrate local swelling or feel warm to the touch. Bones that are close to joints may demonstrate tenderness with gentle range of motion. An evaluation of limb biomechanics and gait analysis are also important in identifying any additional risk factors such as muscular imbalance, limb length discrepancy, or excessive pronation. Consider an appointment with our Run specialist physiotherapists for a run assessment.

For appointments with Dr a Sports medicine specialist- Click HERE or use Live Chat/Message or call 04 581 5400 


Diagnosing the condition by a  Sports Medicine Specialist Doctor

Once diagnosed, the first step in treating stress fractures is to identify the cause. Hormonal imbalances and nutritional issues must be resolved. Training and equipment errors should also be addressed. Shoe selection, training conditions, workout intensity and volume should all be analyzed by an experienced trainer or coach! Most cases are directly related to overuse and poor recovery. In these cases, strict avoidance of impact activity, dialling back your workout schedule, and using non-impact cross-training exercises to maintain fitness is usually successful in allowing the body to heal & recover.

Start your rehabilitation process with an accurate diagnosis with the Sports medicine specialist Doctors at UPANDRUNNING!

To read about A Sports medicine specialist’s approach to treatment click HERE




Submitting ...
Message sent successfully


Thanks for requesting an appointment booking. Our friendly team will be in touch within the next hour to confirm.
If you need to confirm more urgently please call (971) 04 518 5400