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Prevention of running-related injuries in novice runners: are we running on empty?
  1. Evert Verhagen
  1. Correspondence to Evert Verhagen, Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO-Institute, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e.verhagen{at}

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Running is one of the fastest-growing sports activities worldwide. In the Netherlands, with a population 17 million, about 1.4 million individuals engage in this activity regularly—either as part of a club or as an individual. Reasons for the contemporary public interest in running probably include a desire for weight reduction or a healthy lifestyle in general, combined with the low entry level, quick health effects and social elements. This is encouraging from a public health standpoint.

On the other hand, the most recent Dutch sports injury data reveal that 420 000 of our 3.5 million annual sports injuries are running related. This represents 5.1 injuries per 1000 h of running.1 Novice runners have a much greater risk of injury than do those who have been running for some time.2 Injuries work against the potential public health gain of running. Prevention of running injuries in novice runners will promote running consistency. In combination with the current running ‘hype’ and the positive health effects achieved through running, successful injury prevention could contribute substantially to both short-term and long-term public health.

Skimpy published evidence

There are very few (randomised) controlled trials on the effectiveness of preventive interventions for running injuries. A 2011 Cochrane review on prevention of running injuries revealed a total of 25 intervention studies on the prevention of soft-tissue running injury.3 While this presents a …

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  • Competing interest None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.