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Determining the running-related injury risk factors in long distance runners
  1. J Genin,
  2. R Mann,
  3. D Theisen
  1. Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, Public Research Centre for Health, Luxembourg


Background Increased popularity in long-distance running over the last 30–40 years has induced an increase in the incidence of running-related injuries (RRI). Among others, running experience could be a determining factor in the RRI incidence.

Objective To explore whether novice runners sustain more RRI than experienced runners and to determine RRI risk factor variables.

Design Prospective epidemiological study.

Setting A 27-week follow-up of runners at the Luxembourg National Sport Centre ending on the ING-Europe (semi)Marathon of Luxembourg (05.15.2010).

Participants 39 compliant runners (40.2±8.5 years) out of the initial cohort (n=85).

Assessment of risk factors Extrinsic, training-related characteristics (context, volume, etc).

Main outcome measurements Running and other sports data were recorded using an innovative internet-based diary. Similarly, RRIs, which were defined as any pain or physical complaint impeding or altering a training session for at least 1 day, were recorded.

Results From the 39 athletes, 14 were classified as novice runners (ie, <3 months of regular running during the 12 months before the training period). Overall RRI incidence was evaluated at 8.07 RRI/1000 h of running. The RRI incidence was 3.3 times higher (95%CI 1.27 to 8.54) in novice than in experienced runners (16.8 and 5.1 RRI/1000 h of running, respectively; p=0.009), confirming the initial hypothesis. Dichotomous RRI risk factors such as gender or running experience were not significant. RRI incidence was significantly associated with a lower competition volume per week, a lower number of training session, a lower percentage of competition run on a soft surface and a higher average work rate (av. HR/(220-age) during competition. A logistic regression including all individual variables with a p-value<0.2 yielded no significant results.

Conclusion Although the initial hypothesis was confirmed, no risk factors were significant within the logistic regression. In order to be able to construct an individual RRI risk profile, a greater sample size is necessary to provide more conclusive results.

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