Impact lateral to the hip was noted in 37 of 60 patients with hip fracture. Women with hip fracture (n = 12) had an average 22 mm thick soft tissue cover of the hip as compared to 32 mm in healthy women (n = 27), even for the same body mass index. Experiments where a steel weight was dropped from various heights onto porcine soft tissue showed that a layer of 29 mm could absorb 60% more energy than a 20 mm thick layer before nearly metallic contact would occur, corresponding to a sharp rise in load. If the results are related to conditions in vivo, then the passive protection of soft tissue over the hip is important for the development of hip fractures, and may under certain assumptions explain the higher risk of hip fractures in thin persons. An external hip protection device might therefore prevent some hip fractures.