Pre-Induction Sport Activity in Prevention of Stress Fractures
Aharon S. Finestone, Arieh Eldad, Charles Milgrom
Medical Corps, Israel Defense Forces, and Dept. of Orthopedics, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Campus, Petah Tikva and Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem
Pre-induction sports participation of 392 elite infantry recruits was evaluated for correlation with incidence of stress fractures (SF) during 14 weeks of basic training. 23.7% developed lower extremity stress fractures. 72% of the recruits had participated in sports on a regular basis during the 2 years prior to induction. Their fitness as examined by the Bar-Or induction fitness test, was significantly better than that of those who had not trained. 14.9% of the soldiers who had previously participated in ball games (primarily basketball) as an only sport suffered stress fractures, compared to 31.0% of those whose only sport was running (p<0.005).
Training for only 6 months prior to induction had no effect on the incidence of SF. The reason for the difference between ball games and running is probably related to the higher strains and strain rates developed during ball games and to their multidirectional nature, as compared to running.
These findings suggest that participation in a pre-induction program that includes activities that create strains, such as basketball, can reduce incidence of SF in infantry recruits. The training period has to last at least 2 years.