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J Biomech. 2006;39(15):2819-25. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

Free moment as a predictor of tibial stress fracture in distance runners.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, 301 McKinly Lab, Newark, DE 19716, USA. <>


Stress fractures are a common and serious overuse injury in runners, particularly female runners. They may be related to loading characteristics of the lower extremity during running stance. Some tibial stress fractures (TSFs) are spiral in nature and, therefore, may be related to torque. Free moment (FM) is a measure of torque about a vertical axis at the interface with the shoe and ground. Increases in FM variables may be related to a history of TSF in runners. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate differences in FM between female distance runners with and without a history of TSF and, additionally, to investigate the relationship between absolute FM and the occurrence of TSF. A group of 25 currently uninjured female distance runners with a history of TSF (28+/-10 years, 46+/-15 km week(-1)) and an age- and mileage-matched control group of 25 healthy runners with no previous lower extremity fractures (26+/-9 years, 46+/-19 km week(-1)) participated in this study. Ground reaction forces and foot placement on the force platform were recorded during running at 3.7 ms(-1) (+/-5%). Peak adduction, braking peak and absolute peak FM and impulse were compared between groups using one-tailed t-tests. The predictive value of absolute peak FM was investigated via a binary logistic regression. All variables, except impulse, were significantly greater in runners with a history of TSF. Absolute peak FM had a significant predictive relationship with history of TSF. There is a significant relationship between higher values for FM variables and a history of TSF.

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