Fractures: Are They More Common in Women?

Athletes of various levels can experience stress fractures. While it’s true that both the weekend warrior and the professional athlete have an equal chance of facing this injury, women in either of those groups may have higher risk.

A stress fracture occurs when tiny cracks develop in the bone. This occurs from recurring micro-trauma that the body does not have enough resting time to repair.

Runners commonly encounter stress fractures due to the repetitive movement of running. This repetition creates a lot of strain on the lower extremity, which absorbs the impact as your feet hit the ground.

Within this group of athletes, women face greater risk due to biological factors outside of their control. It is important for women to be aware of these factors so they can adjust their habits to prevent injury. 

Menstruation can make women more vulnerable to stress fractures.

Chemicals present in the female body during menstruation can actually make them more susceptible to a stress fracture. During this time, women should be extra cautious of the intensity, frequency and duration of their workouts. They can also incorporate cross training in their workout regimens to aid in further strengthening their bodies. Swimming, weight-lifting, and yoga are all examples of cross training.

Women have lower body mass index than men.

During running, impact is distributed throughout the body through lean muscle to lessen the impact to the bones. Someone with a lower BMI has less areas for this absorption to take place. As a result, the bones will absorb more of the force which could lead to a stress fracture.

Women are more prone to nutritional deficiencies.

Women can easily lack the optimal nutrients due mainly to their reproductive biology. PMS, pregnancy and menopause all contribute to a loss of minerals needed for a healthy, well-performing body. For example, iron is often supplemented in a woman’s diet because so much is lost during menstruation. Vitamin D is another common deficiency. This deficiency is found in both men and women. However, women run the risk of greater impact since they often struggle with more than one disadvantage. 

As women work towards their wellness goals, they should not feel restricted by their biological differences from men. They should feel empowered to follow a fitness routine that works best for their individual bodies. 

As they push themselves toward healthier lifestyles, women must work with what they need to perform at their best. They should eat nutritious meals, monitor any physical symptoms during menstruation, and optimize their BMI. Moreover, runners of any gender identity should ensure they use proper technique, wear suitable shoes, and refrain from frequently changing the surface they run on.

Should they encounter any pain that they believe to be a stress fracture, they should find a podiatrist that can perform a physical examination. Dr. Benjamin Tehrani is here to help. Give Kings Point Foot & Ankle a call today for your consultation.