Female runners who are underweight have a higher risk for injury and take longer to heal according to a new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Dr. Timothy Miller studied dozens of Division I athletes over three years and found that those with a body mass index of 19 or below were likely to develop stress fractures because their bodies are unable to handle the constant pounding of running.
“There’s nowhere for that shock to be absorbed other than directly back into the bone. So until they build some muscle mass, put a little bit of weight back on, they’re actually still at risk of developing a stress fracture later on in their career,” said Dr. Miller.
Many runners try to cut weight with the assumption that the lighter they are, the faster they are, but Dr. Miller says these athletes are jeopardizing their careers and that the calories burned in training must be replenished to protect themselves from injury.