Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is a common injury in active populations and has been suggested to be a result of both biomechanical and lifestyle factors. The main aim of this study was to determine prospectively whether gait biomechanics and lifestyle factors can be used as a predictor of MTSS development. British infantry male recruits (n=468) were selected for the study. Plantar pressure variables, lifestyle factors comprising smoking habit and aerobic fitness as measured by a 1.5 mile timed-run were collected on the first day of training. Injury data were collected during the 26 week training period and incidence rate was 7.9% (n=37). A logistic regression model for membership of the MTSS and non-MTSS groups was developed. An imbalance in foot pressure with greater pressure on the medial side than on the lateral side was the primary risk factor. Low aerobic fitness, as deduced from a 1.5 mile timed-run and smoking habit were also important, but were additive risk factors for MTSS. In conclusion, "poor" biomechanics were the strongest predictors of MTSS development but lifestyle factors were also important. The logistic regression model combining all three risk factors was capable of predicting 96.9% of the non-injured group and 67.5% of the MTSS group with an overall accuracy of 87.7%. While the model has yet to be validated against an external sample and limitations exist with regards to the quality of the data collected, it is nonetheless suggested that the combined analysis of biomechanical and lifestyle factors has the potential to improve the prediction of MTSS.
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