BMI & Injuries

July 27, 2017

New research suggests that weighing less could come with a cost for female runners. The study’s findings show an increased risk of developing stress fractures for female runners whose body mass index (BMI) is less than 19, as well as a longer recovery time for injuries.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted the study over the course of three years, using the Kaeding-Miller classification system in analyzing NCAA Division I student-athletes’ injuries. The system rates injuries from one to five—with five being the most severe—based on readings from MRIs, CT images, bone scans, X-rays, and the patient’s symptoms. 

“We found that, over time, we were able to identify factors that put female runners at an increased risk of developing a stress fracture,” Timothy Miller, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at the Wexner Medical Center, told ScienceDaily. “One of the most important factors we identified was low bodyweight, or low [BMI].”

Along with that finding, the female student-athletes whose BMI was below 19 took about a month longer to recover from grade five stress fractures, compared to those whose BMI was 19 or above. This is significant because prior studies have suggested that 25 to 50 percent of track athletes suffer at least one stress fracture, with females having an increased incidence.

“When [BMI] is very low and muscle mass is depleted, there is nowhere for the shock of running to be absorbed other than directly into the bones,” said Dr. Miller. “Until some muscle mass is developed and BMI is optimized, runners remain at increased risk of developing a stress fracture.”

To reduce this risk, Dr. Miller suggests athletes maintain a healthy weight and incorporate strength training into their workouts.

“It’s imperative that women know their BMI and work to maintain a healthy level,” he said. “They should also include resistance training in their training regimen to strengthen the lower leg to prevent injury, even if that means adding weight from additional muscle mass.” 

SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

The Evolution of the Lifting Platform

The days of the above ground weightlifting platform may be a thing of the past. More and more high schools, colleges, and professional strength and conditioning facilities who are either building a new facility or renovating an existing facility are going away from the traditional above ground lifting platform and choosing the inlaid platform, which … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Teaching Principles: Neck Rotation

Coach Bill ‘Jake’ Jacobs goes back to the basic teaching principles with Neck Rotation. View his demonstration.  CLICK TO READ MORE...

RP Sports: Revolutionary Sports Technologies

RP Sport’s goal is to provide elite athletes with the most innovative sports technologies that push you past the peak of physical limits and into the future of athletic performance. Working  with ATs,  pro teams, elite athletes, physio therapists and more, RP takes pride in offering only the most safe & effective recovery, performance, rehab … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Firstbeat readies sleep-monitoring system

A lot of attention is being paid to recovery in athletes as part of efforts to help them reach their optimal performance. Much of this attention has focused on training loads, with numerous systems being developed to track this data. Now, attention is turning to the importance of sleep. As explained in a blog on … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Research Supports Use of Sway Medical Balance Assessment

A study involving 184 Division II male and female student-athletes concludes that the accessibility and ease of use of Sway Medical’s Concussion Management System Application makes it an effective and affordable tool for balance and postural stability assessments. “In today’s society, electronic devices are widely used, and the SMBA (Sway Medical Balance Application) is easily … CLICK TO READ MORE...


Stay at the Top of Your Game!
Receive articles like this by signing up for our newsletters