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Injuries Among Female Marine Corps Recruits

Injuries in the military reduce productivity and troop readiness. Finding ways to prevent such injuries is an important goal. The results of this study from Marine Corps basic training at Parris Island (South Carolina) show that the incidence of lower extremity (LE) injuries in female recruits is high. Risk factors were identified.

Out of 824 female recruits, there were 868 overuse injuries to the LE. And injured female Marine Corps recruits were more likely to reinjure themselves after returning to training. A key risk factor for all injuries was low aerobic fitness. This assessment was based on a slower time for these women on the timed run.

Amenorrhea (not having a menstrual cycle) was another significant risk factor. Women who had not had a menstrual cycle in over six months were more likely to get injured during basic training. None of the women included in the study had been pregnant during the previous year.

Stress fractures were more likely to occur in women who had less than seven months of weight-training for the legs. This type of injury is more serious because it takes longer to get back to training activities.

Age, body mass index (BMI), and race or ethnicity did not seem to have any influence on LE injuries. For female recruits with a non-stress fracture overuse injury, fitness rated as fair to poor was a risk factor.

The authors conclude that injuries to the lower leg, especially of the shin and calf occur commonly in female military recruits. The results of this study suggest that exposure to the right kind of training can reduce or even prevent these kinds of injuries. Women starting Marine Corps basic training should also be screened early for menstrual irregularities. Proper medical management is advised for this risk factor.


Mitchell J. Rauh, et al. Epidemiology of Stress Fracture and Lower-Extremity Overuse Injury in Female Recruits. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. September 2006. Vol. 38. No. 9. Pp. 1571-1577, 2006.

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