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Physical Therapy


International Journal of Exercise Science 16(3): 721-743, 2023. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of footwear, foot orthoses and training-related strategies to prevent lower extremity bone stress injury (BSI). Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Data sources: Four bibliographic databases (from inception until November 2021): Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL. Eligibility criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed the risk of developing a BSI when using particular footwear, foot orthoses or training-related strategies such as muscle strengthening, stretching, and mechanical loading exercises. Results: Eleven studies were included in this systematic review. When wearing foot orthoses, the risk ratio of developing a BSI on any lower extremity bone is 0.47 (95% CI 0.26 to 0.87; p = 0.02). When doing pre-exercise dynamic stretching, the risk ratio of suffering a tibial BSI is 1.06 (95% CI 0.67 to 1.68; p = 0.79). No meta-analyses could be performed for footwear or training-related strategies. The quality of evidence for all these results is low considering the high risk of bias in each study, the low number of studies and the low number of cases in each study. Conclusion: This systematic review reveals the lack of high-quality studies in BSI prevention. Based on studies at high risk of bias, foot orthoses could potentially help prevent BSIs in the military setting. It is still unknown whether footwear and training-related strategies have any benefits. It is crucial to further investigate potential BSI prevention strategies in women and athletes. Research is also needed to assess the influence of running shoes and loading management on BSI incidence.

Online Appendix 1.pdf (73 kB)
Search Strategies in Databases

Online Appendix 2.pdf (101 kB)
Assessment of risk of bias

Online Appendix 3.pdf (47 kB)
Results of each RCT included in this systematic review, with meta-analysis when possible