Athletics is a popular sport, but there is little published data on injury rates in elite track and field. The aim of this study was to record and analyse the injury status of UKA-funded athletes on the World Class Performance Programme at the time of 8 major Championships and Trials from summer 2008 to spring 2010. Injuries occurring to UK Athletics World Class Performance Pathway athletes at the point of competition were collected over a two year period at major championships (Olympics, World and European matches and trials both indoors and outdoors) between July 2008 and March 2010. Injury data collected included current status sub-categorised into i) Fully available to compete, ii) injured, available to compete but with impaired or modified championship preparation and iii) injured and not available to compete. For injured athletes the diagnosis was reported and confirmed by a UKA Sports Physician. The prevalence, location of injury, most injured discipline and specific injuries in these disciplines were analysed. 48% of all athletes experienced an injury resulting in the inability to compete in at least one of the included Championships. The percentage of athletes unable to compete through injury was greatest in multi-event athletes (43%) followed by sprinters (24%), endurance athletes (21%) and middle distance runners (18%). Of the total 120 injuries which prevented athletes from competing, 35 were thigh injuries, 21 were foot and toes and 13 were medical illnesses. Multi-event athletes suffered a high rate of stress fractures and plantar fasciitis whilst sprinters were prone to hamstring strains and long distance runners to medical illness and stress fractures. Injuries which allowed athletes to compete but with injury-impaired preparation followed a similar pattern with thigh and medical illnesses accounting for 22 and 11 of the total 79 injuries respectively with the highest prevalence seen in long and triple jumpers (24%) and multi-event athletes (20%). Little empirical evidence exists to reinforce or dispute these findings, but recommendations have been made to minimise such occurrence in future. Suggestions to assess previous medical history for hamstring injuries and increase eccentric strengthening to minimise the risk of hamstring strains in sprinters, middle distance runners and horizontal jumpers have been made. In addition, medical professionals should review the female athlete triad in long distance runners due to the prevalence of stress fractures and once again medical illness in these athletes.
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