Stress fractures of the tibia: can personality traits help us detect the injury-prone athlete?

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001 Apr;11(2):87-95. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0838.2001.011002087.x.


One of the few serious drawbacks associated with running is overuse injuries such as stress fractures of the tibia, which cause local pain and swelling, often resulting in a temporary cessation of training. Whereas some runners rarely become injured, others experience recurrent injuries even during fairly short periods of time. The aim of the present study was to compare selected personality traits in a group of runners who had sustained a previous tibial stress fracture (n=17), with a matched group of runners (n=17) who had never experienced stress fractures. The results indicated that the injured runners, especially the women, scored higher than the non-injured runners did on inventories measuring both the Type A behavior pattern and exercise dependency. Since motivation, ambitiousness, and competitiveness are integral parts of these inventories, high scoring individuals might be part of a high-risk population for running injuries, the more so if the individual also feels dependent on regular running for managing stress related mood states, which was the case particularly for the injured women in the present study. However, the somewhat limited number of runners who had had a confirmatory scintigram, which was a criterion for inclusion in the study, warrants a cautious interpretation of the results. The findings nevertheless suggest that in order to prevent recurrent injuries, health education professionals and clinicians ought to focus on conveying the importance of detecting precursors of injury, and the subsequent steps which should be taken to avoid developing a serious injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Fractures, Stress / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Stress / psychology*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / psychology*
  • Tibial Fractures / epidemiology
  • Tibial Fractures / psychology*
  • Type A Personality