Study: Underweight Female Runners More Likely To Get Stress Fractures

Doctors find women with lower BMIs are at a higher risk of injury, take longer to heal

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Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that female runners with a body mass index (BMI) below 19 were at higher risk for stress fractures than those with normal or even high BMIs.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Female runners who are underweight have a higher risk for injury and take longer to heal according to a new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Dr. Timothy Miller studied dozens of Division I athletes over three years and found that those with a body mass index of 19 or below were likely to develop stress fractures because their bodies are unable to handle the constant pounding of running.

“There’s nowhere for that shock to be absorbed other than directly back into the bone. So until they build some muscle mass, put a little bit of weight back on, they’re actually still at risk of developing a stress fracture later on in their career,” said Dr. Miller.

Many runners try to cut weight with the assumption that the lighter they are, the faster they are, but Dr. Miller says these athletes are jeopardizing their careers and that the calories burned in training must be replenished to protect themselves from injury.

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Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that female runners with a body mass index (BMI) below 19 were at higher risk for stress fractures than those with normal or even high BMIs.

Timothy Miller, MD, examines the leg of a female track athlete at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Jordan Moxley, 23, decided to study art education after stress fractures in her leg prematurely ended her career as an Ohio State University track and field athlete.

Former track and field athlete Jordan Moxley, 23, took part in a study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, that found female athletes who have a body mass index (BMI) below 19 are at a greater risk for stress fractures than those with normal or high BMI.

Stress fractures in her left leg prematurely ended the collegiate track and field career of Jordan Moxley, 23. A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that female athletes like Moxley, who have a low body mass index (BMI), are at a higher risk for stress fracture injuries.