Our understanding of mechanical controls on bone remodeling comes from studies of animals with surgically implanted strain gages, but in vivo strain measurements have been made in a single human only once. That study showed that strains in the human tibia during walking and running are well below the fracture threshold. However, strains have never been monitored in vivo during vigorous activity in people, even though prolonged strenuous activity may be responsible for the occurrence of stress fractures. We hypothesized that strains >3000 microstrain could be produced on the human tibial midshaft during vigorous activity. Strains were measured on the tibiae of two subjects via implanted strain gauges under conditions similar to those experienced by Israeli infantry recruits. Principal compressive and shear strains were greatest for uphill and downhill zigzag running, reaching nearly 2000 microstrain in some cases, about three times higher than recorded during walking. Strain rates were highest during sprinting and downhill running, reaching 0.050/sec. These results show that strain is maintained below 2000 microstrain even under conditions of strenuous activity. Strain rates are higher than previously recorded in human studies, but well within the range reported for running animals.
Keywords: Strain; Stress fracture; Exercise; Bone; Biomechanics