In running, a tibia bone fracture is often caused by repetitive impact shocks from excessive mechanical stress.
Numerous studies have confirmed that over-striding in heel strike running increases mechanical stress on the leg, resulting in a peak impact force exclusively produced at heel strike.
- The peak impact force influences higher rates of repetitive impact shocks as compared to forefoot running.
Forefoot running is related to shorter stride-lengths which buffers mechanical stress on the lower limb.
Peak Impact at Heel Strike Causes Tibia Bone Fracture
Tibial Impact: Forefoot Strike vs Heel Strike
Past studies that measured and compared repetitive impact shocks in heel strike and forefoot strike runners have found:
- heel strike runners produced a higher magnitude of ground-reaction force, higher tibial peak acceleration and higher loading
- heel strike runners landed with a heavier foot strike which exacerbated collision forces
- heel strikers had longer foot-ground contact time, resulting in more force production
It now appears that over-striding coupled with long ground-contact time increases torque on cartilage and other connective tissues involved in stabilizing the leg, influencing tibia bone fracture during heel strike running.
How Forefoot Running Prevents Tibia Bone Fracture
Using the forefoot running technique to prevent tibia bone fracture in runners is not a far-fetched idea. This treatment strategy derives from the realization that forefoot running reduces the inflow of loading and impact on the tibia.
Give forefoot running’s role in reducing impact, many experts are quick to point out additional health benefits of forefoot running, such as reduced intramuscular leg pressures, thereby reducing the risk of tibia bone fracture, also.
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Barr, AE and Barbe MF. Pathophysiological tissue changes associated with repetitive movement: a review of the evidence. Phys Ther (2002); 82(2):173-87.
Dickinson, JA., Cook, SD and Leinhardt, TM. The measurement of shock waves following heel strike while running. J Biomech (1985); 18(6):415-22.
Kerrigan et al. The effect of running shoes on lower extremity joint torques. PM R (2009); 1(12):1058-63.
Loli, JP. What about bunions. Harvard Women’s Health Watch Newsletter ( 2011) June.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
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