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Push ups and Stress Fractures

Posted Mar 17 2010 9:46am

I got this comment on yesterday’s post, and thought that it would make an outstanding blog for today.

What I do know that might interest you involves stress fractures with military recruits in the Army. Stress fractures are one type of injury that has a huge impact on recruits in the Army. To be able to predict stress fracture would be a very good thing. A physical therapist I know who did some work on attempting to predict stress fractures found something quite interesting. (His work is not published because he was trying to create a prediction rule for stress fracture occurrence and the statistical aspect of the prediction rule had problems.) What he did find that was that push up performance was a definite factor in what predicted a stress fracture. He said the way the Army does the push up performance test requires both strong tricep and core strength. (I don’t remember the cutoff for the number of repetitions in a defined amount of time, but if the recruit didn’t meet the cutoff the probability for a stress fracture was greater.)
Interesting, huh?~Snippets

Think about that.  He who cannot do a certain number of good push ups is more likely to pick up a stress fracture over the course of training.  To me, this says that strength definitely matters and that upper body strength is important in running athletes, but probably more powerfully, it demonstrates the power of core stability.

The push up, as noted in an earlier post, places high demand on the anterior chain of the body leading to reflexive activity of the core.  Now exactly why or how it is the push up that predicts stress fracturces, I cannot say.  What I do know, however, is that those people capable of producing the greatest torque at the hips and who have the most stable “cores” are much less likely to be injured over the course of an NCAA season in a broad range of sport.  Additionally, there is evidence showing that those who fall one standard deviation below “mean” strength on a leg press (both absolute and relative) were at a five times greater risk of stress fracture.  In the same study, it was shown that aerobic fitness (the ability to run) had no association with health or injury.

Strength training is important, and running is by no means a panacea.

Best regards,

Carson Boddicker

Boddicker Performance

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