Characteristics of the Foot Static Alignment and the Plantar Pressure Associated with Fifth Metatarsal Stress Fracture History in Male Soccer Players: a Case-Control Study

Sports Med Open. 2017 Dec;3(1):27. doi: 10.1186/s40798-017-0095-y. Epub 2017 Aug 7.


Background: There is a large amount of information regarding risk factors for fifth metatarsal stress fractures; however, there are few studies involving large numbers of subjects. This study aimed to compare the static foot alignment and distribution of foot pressure of athletes with and without a history of fifth metatarsal stress fractures.

Methods: The study participants comprised 335 collegiate male soccer players. Twenty-nine with a history of fifth metatarsal stress fractures were in the fracture group and 306 were in the control group (with subgroups as follows: 30 in the fracture foot group and 28 in the non-fracture group). We measured the foot length, arch height, weight-bearing leg-heel alignment, non-weight-bearing leg-heel alignment, forefoot angle relative to the rearfoot, forefoot angle relative to the horizontal axis, and foot pressure.

Results: The non-weight-bearing leg-heel alignment was significantly smaller and the forefoot angle relative to the rearfoot was significantly greater in the fracture foot group than in the control foot group (P = 0.049 and P = 0.038, respectively). With regard to plantar pressure, there were no significant differences among the groups. Midfield players had significantly higher rates of fifth metatarsal stress fracture in their histories, whereas defenders had significantly lower rates (chi-square = 13.2, P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in the frequency of fifth metatarsal stress fractures according to the type of foot (kicking foot vs. pivoting foot) or the severity of ankle sprain.

Conclusions: Playing the midfield position and having an everted rearfoot and inverted forefoot alignment were associated with fifth metatarsal stress fractures. This information may be helpful for preventing fifth metatarsal stress fracture recurrence. More detailed load evaluations and a prospective study are needed in the future.