Background The incidence of running-related injuries (RRI) in (female) novice runners is high. Preconditioning programs have shown to be effective on the incidence of sports and overuse injuries in different populations.
Objective Is a preconditioning program effective for preventing RRIs in female novice runners?
Design The prospective study is a large 2-arm randomised clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to a preconditioning group and a control group. Stratification for current sporting activities status, previous injury, and gender was applied.
Setting Female novice runners preparing for a recreational 4-mile running event.
Participants Healthy female novice runners (age 18–65), who had not sustained an injury of the lower extremity in the last 3 months and who had not been running on a regular basis in the previous 12 months. After randomisation 283 participants (mean age=36, mean body mass index=23) were allocated to the intervention group or the control group. Finally 113 participants in the intervention group and 126 in the control group were included for analyses.
Interventions 4-week preconditioning program, in which the biomechanical load was gradually increased on the lower extremity with functional activities like hopping in place and walking. The program was directly followed by a 9-week running program for both groups.
Main outcome measurements The primary outcome measure was RRIs per 100 runners. An RRI was defined as any musculoskeletal complaint of the lower extremity or back causing a restriction of running for at least 1 week.
Results 15% (19 of 126) of the runners in the preconditioning group and 13% (15 of 113) of the control group sustained a RRI. This difference was not significant (÷2=0.16, df=1, p=0.69).
Conclusion The preconditioning program did not have an effect on the incidence of RRIs in female novice runners.
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