Insufficiency fracture: what can we learn from McGregor’s broken leg

There is a lot of talk on how Conor McGregor broke his tibia (shin) at last night’s fight. While it is all speculative, it is good timing for us to discuss insufficiency fractures.

What is insufficiency fracture?

Conor McGregor shin tibia fracture

Insufficiency fracture is a type of fracture that results from normal stress on abnormal bone. It’s commonly associated in people with osteoporosis.

With osteoporosis, most people think that the fracture occurs because of slip and falls. However, it’s just as possible for the reverse to be true (i.e., an osteoporotic patient falling BECAUSE of their fractures).

This means that if you have osteoporosis, your bone can fracture from your usual day-to-day walking. Your brittle bone could unexpectedly break during routine activities causing you to fall (i.e., normal stress on abnormal bone).

How do you keep your bones strong and healthy?

international space station gymBelieve it or not, exercise. Specifically, weight-bearing exercises.

As a chiropractor, I often stress the importance of weight training. We previously shared how astronauts are at risk of muscle atrophy. Because they spend extended periods of time in a low-gravity environment (aka space), their muscles and their bones tend to weaken.

NASA’s landmark twin experiment in 2015 demonstrated this. In the experiment, astronaut Scott Kelly was sent to space for a year while his identical twin, Mark, continued to live on earth, When the experiment ended, Scott suffered rapid bone density loss and also loss of muscle tissue.

This is why weight-bearing exercises is important for healthy bones.

Why do professional cyclists have low bone density?

Weight bearing exercises is absolutely crucial to building healthy bones.

You can be super fit Tour de France athlete and that doesn’t guarantee you strong bones. In fact, you are more likely to have low bone density.

A study published in March this year found that some elite cyclists have bone mineral density comparable to those of a 70-year old individual. Despite their ability to push their body to the limits of human physiology, their bone density is low because cycling is not a weight bearing sport.

This is why weight-bearing exercises is important for healthy bones.

Why did McGregor’s fracture his leg?

The exact reason for his fracture is not announced yet.

However, the leanness his sport demands does bring up RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport).

Like cyclists, Conor McGregor would need to keep his body lean (70kg) and this means a tight calorie-controlled diet. This often leads to a relative energy deficiency. RED-S occurs when athletes consume less calories than they expand.

This can prove problematic because it puts their body under stress and in poorer conditions to achieve recovery.

Furthermore, given the nature of MMA sports, it is possible for athletes to suffer from corticosteroid induced osteoporosis. Cortisone is a widely used pain management drug in athletes. Its side effects include osteoporosis and it is the most common cause of osteoporosis in young people.


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.