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Influence of endurance running on calcaneal bone stiffness in male and female runners

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The aim of this investigation was to determine the influence of endurance running on calcaneus bone stiffness in male and female runners.


A total of 122 marathoners (longer distance runners, men = 101; women = 21) and 81 half-marathon and 10-km runners (shorter distance runners; men = 48; women = 33), competing in an international running event, underwent an ultrasonographic assessment of the right and left calcaneus. Calcaneus bone stiffness was estimated using the measurements of the speed of sound (SOS) and broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA). Seventy-five age-matched sedentary people served as the control group.


Male and female longer distance runners and shorter distance runners presented higher values than sedentary counterparts in SOS (P < 0.05), and calcaneus stiffness (P < 0.05). Although there were no significant differences between longer distance and shorter distance runners in the ultrasonographic variables, longer distance runners presented greater effects size in SOS (1.00 vs 0.93 males; 1.10 vs 0.77 females), BUA (0.62 vs 0.25 males; 0.89 vs 0.20 females) and calcaneus stiffness (0.88 vs 0.66 males; 1.20 vs 0.60 females) than shorter distance endurance runners.


Calcaneus bone stiffness was higher in all endurance runners compared to a sedentary control population. The volume of ground reaction forces which occur during endurance running might induce the adaptation of the calcaneus bone.

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Fig. 1

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Analysis of variance


Analysis of covariance


Broadband ultrasound attenuation


Standard deviation


Speed of sound


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The authors wish to thank the subjects for their invaluable contribution to the study. In addition, we are very grateful to the Organization of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Marathon & ½ Marathon for their contribution to the study.

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Correspondence to Juan Del Coso.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest derived from the outcomes of this study.

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Communicated by Olivier Seynnes.

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Lara, B., Salinero, J.J., Gutiérrez, J. et al. Influence of endurance running on calcaneal bone stiffness in male and female runners. Eur J Appl Physiol 116, 327–333 (2016).

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