Three rules for bone adaptation to mechanical stimuli

Bone. 1998 Nov;23(5):399-407. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(98)00118-5.


The primary mechanical function of bones is to provide rigid levers for muscles to pull against, and to remain as light as possible to allow efficient locomotion. To accomplish this bones must adapt their shape and architecture to make efficient use of material. Bone adaptation during skeletal growth and development continuously adjusts skeletal mass and architecture to changing mechanical environments. There are three fundamental rules that govern bone adaptation: (1) It is driven by dynamic, rather than static, loading. (2) Only a short duration of mechanical loading is necessary to initiate an adaptive response. (3) Bone cells accommodate to a customary mechanical loading environment, making them less responsive to routine loading signals. From these rules, several mathematical equations can be derived that provide simple parametric models for bone adaptation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Weight-Bearing