Article Text

Download PDFPDF
  1. Pascal Edouard1,2,
  2. Nina Feddermann-demont3,4,
  3. Juan-Manuel Alonso5,
  4. Pedro Branco6,
  5. Astrid Junge3,7,8
  1. 1University Hospital of St Etienne, Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology, Sports Medicine Unity, Saint-Etienne, France
  2. 2Université of Lyon, University of Jean Monnet, Inter-university Laboratory of Human Movement Biology (LIBM EA 7424), Saint-Etienne, France
  3. 3FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4University Hospital Zurich, Department of Neurology, Zurich, Switzerland
  5. 5Department of Sports Medicine, ASPETAR, Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  6. 6European Athletics Medical & Anti Doping Commission, European Athletics Association (EAA), Lausanne, Switzerland
  7. 7Medical School of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  8. 8Schulthess Clinic Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland


    Background During top-level international Athletics championships, injury risk was about 100 injuries per 1000 athletes for outdoor championships, and about 63 injuries per 1000 athletes for indoors championships. However, it is unclear whether male or female athletes differ in risk and/or characteristics of injuries.

    Objective To compare the incidences and characteristics of injuries that occurred during international Athletics championships between female and male athletes.

    Design Prospective study.

    Setting 14 international athletics championships from 2007 to 2014; Elite athletics level.

    Participants A total of 17592 registered athletes.

    Main Outcome Measurements Incidences of all (time-loss) injuries in male and female athletes.

    Results The rate of injuries per 1000 registered athletes was significantly higher in male (110.3±6.8) than in female (88.5±6.7) athletes (relative risk (RR)=1.25; 95% CI:1.13–1.37, small effect size). Male athletes incurred significantly more injuries in the thigh (RR=1.64; 95% CI:1.32–2.05, small), lower leg (RR=1.36; 95% CI:1.05–1.75, small) and hip/groin injuries (RR=2.26; 95% CI:1.31–3.88, moderate), more muscle strains (RR=1.64; 95% CI:1.33–2.04, small), cramps (RR=1.81; 95% CI:1.35–2.43, small), and especially more thigh strains (RR=1.66; 95% CI:1.25–2.19, small), but fewer stress fractures (RR=0.32; 95% CI:0.12–0.81, moderate) than female athletes. A higher injury risk of male than of female athletes was observed in sprints (RR=1.32; 95% CI:1.06–1.66, small), middle distance runs (RR=1.48; 95% CI:1.06–2.06, small), race walks (RR=2.55; 95% CI:1.27–5.10, moderate), and jumps (RR=2.13; 95% CI:1.53–2.97, moderate). No sex difference was found for cause and severity of injury.

    Conclusions During 14 top-level international Athletics championships, male athletes had higher risk of injuries than female athletes. Moreover, injury incidences differed between sexes for location, type, and discipline. Males suffered more thigh strains than female athletes. Prevention strategies will likely need to take sex into account and where appropriate, be adapted to the differences in injury characteristics between female and male athletes.

    • Injury

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.