Do high impact exercises produce higher tibial strains than running?

Tags: etiology, shin pain, overuse injury, running, pro, leg, limbs, pain problems, injury, exercise, self-treatment, treatment

Two articles on PainSci cite Milgrom 2000: 1. Is Running on Pavement Risky?2. Shin Splints Treatment, The Complete Guide

PainSci notes on Milgrom 2000:

For this study, gauges were stapled to people’s shin bones to measure and compare forces during running and jumping down from a height. Contrary to the authors’ expectations, the jumpers adapted easily in their landings with lots of springy knee and ankle bending — in the highest jumps, the forces on their shins was actually much less than during running, where there is less opportunity for shock absorption.

In other words, running is higher impact than “high impact” exercises. And “therefore are unlikely to place an athlete who is accustomed to fast running at higher risk for bone fatigue.”

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Bone must have sufficient strength to withstand both instantaneous forces and lower repetitive forces. Repetitive loading, especially when bone strain and/or strain rates are high, can create microdamage and result in stress fracture

AIM: To measure in vivo strains and strain rates in human tibia during high impact and moderate impact exercises.

METHODS: Three strain gauged bone staples were mounted percutaneously in a rosette pattern in the mid diaphysis of the medial tibia in six normal subjects, and in vivo tibial strains were measured during running at 17 km/h and drop jumping from heights of 26, 39, and 52 cm.

RESULTS: Complete data for all three drop jumps were obtained for four of the six subjects. No statistically significant differences were found in compression, tension, or shear strains with increasing drop jump height, but, at the 52 cm height, shear strain rate was reduced by one third (p = 0.03). No relation was found between peak compression strain and calculated drop jump energy, indicating that subjects were able to dissipate part of the potential energy of successively higher drop jumps by increasing the range of motion of their knee and ankle joints and not transmitting the energy to their tibia. No statistically significant differences were found between the principal strains during running and drop jumping from 52 cm, but compression (p = 0.01) and tension (p = 0.004) strain rates were significantly higher during running.

CONCLUSIONS: High impact exercises, as represented by drop jumping in this experiment, do not cause higher tibial strains and strain rates than running and therefore are unlikely to place an athlete who is accustomed to fast running at higher risk for bone fatigue.

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