Mechanical Loading of the Femoral Neck in Human Locomotion

Mariana E. Kersh, Saulo Martelli, Roger Zebaze, Ego Seeman, Marcus G. Pandy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advancing age and reduced loading are associated with a reduction in bone formation. Conversely, loading increases periosteal apposition and may reduce remodeling imbalance and slow age-related bone loss, an important outcome for the proximal femur, which is a common site of fracture. The ability to take advantage of bone's adaptive response to increase bone strength has been hampered by a lack of knowledge of which exercises and specific leg muscles load the superior femoral neck: a common region of microcrack initiation and progression following a sideways fall. We used an in vivo method of quantifying focal strains within the femoral neck in postmenopausal women during walking, stair ambulation, and jumping. Relative to walking, stair ambulation and jumping induced significantly higher strains in the anterior and superior aspects of the femoral neck, common regions of microcrack initiation and progression following a fall. The gluteus maximus, a hip extensor muscle, induced strains in the femoral neck during stair ambulation and jumping, in contrast to walking which induced strains via the iliopsoas, a hip flexor. The ground reaction force was closely associated with the level of strain during each task, providing a surrogate indicator of the potential for a given exercise to load the femoral neck. The gluteal muscles combined with an increased ground reaction force relative to walking induce high focal strains within the anterosuperior region of the femoral neck and therefore provide a target for exercise regimens designed to slow bone loss and maintain or improve microstructural strength. Model files used for calculating femoral neck strains are available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1999-2006
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • BONE
  • HIP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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