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Physical and psychological stressors linked with stress fractures in recruit training


Corresponding author: Daniel S. Moran, Heller Institute of Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, 52621 Israel. Tel: 972-35303564, Fax: 972-37377002, E-mail:


This study aimed to measure ambulation in infantry army basic training, and to evaluate if covering more distance can explain stress fractures in a stressor–stress model. Forty-four male combat recruits (18.7 ± 0.7 years) participated in a 6-month rigorous high intensity combat training program. Baseline data included anthropometric measurements, VO2max, and psychological questionnaires. Actual distance covered was measured using a pedometer over an 11-week training period. Psychological questionnaires were repeated after 2 months. Sixteen recruits were diagnosed with stress fractures by imaging (SFi = 36.4%). Statistical analysis included comparing measured variables between SFi and those without stress fractures (NSF). The recruits covered 796 ± 157 km, twofold the distance planned of 378 km (P < 0.001). The SFi group covered a distance 16.4% greater than that of the NSF group (866 ± 136 and 744 ± 161 km, respectively, P < 0.01), and also demonstrated greater psychological stress. These data reveal the importance of adherence to or enforcement of military training programs. In the light of these data, the Israeli Defense Forces program needs reappraisal. A stressor–stress response might explain the susceptibility of certain recruits for injury. Using advanced technology, monitoring ambulation may prevent stress fracture development by limiting subjects exceeding a certain level. Psychological profile may also play a role in predicting stress fracture development.