BBC Sport chat up the metatarsals with Professor of Sports Science Tom Reilly, Sport Specialist Richard Higgins and Reading physio Jon Fearn. Very informative!
Higgins: Pitches are harder these days and players at the top are fitter, faster and stronger.
The stresses players' feet endure are hugely different to 20-25 years ago.
Grass pitches are often sand-based to improve drainage. These will be watered to increase speed, and not necessarily to make them softer.
It can be like running on concrete. Today's boots are probably less supportive and lighter, which will add to the stresses on the bones.
Fearn: The pitches are a major factor. Metatarsals often break due to increased stress levels and these stresses change with differing playing surfaces.
Premiership stars play on gorgeous surfaces day in, day out and any slight change in conditions will mean their feet may not be conditioned for that surface. Playing on a variety of surfaces creates different stresses and this is beneficial.
Bones respond to load and if you don't provide the high load the bones can become weaker and vulnerable.
However, if the workload is intense without rest or players just work on soft surfaces they again become susceptible to fracture.
Boots have become very cosmetic. Blades, for example, have been banned by some clubs and I advise against them. They make the lower limbs very vulnerable.
They are like crampons in mountaineering. We recommend a more conical stud so if a player spins, they spin on a cylindrical point rather than having something that just grips.
The upper part of a boot used to be a lot stronger for protection. Now they are made of flimsy plastic that feels like paper, but many players seem to want that lightweight feel of the boot.