High school cross country running injuries: a longitudinal study

Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Apr;10(2):110-6. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200004000-00005.


Objective: To determine the incidence rate of injury among high school cross country runners over a 15-year period.

Design: Prospective-longitudinal.

Setting: Twenty-three high schools in western Washington State under the surveillance of the University of Washington Athletic Health Care System between 1979-1994.

Participants: One hundred and ninety-nine cross country teams.

Main outcome measure: Injuries resulting from running in a cross country practice or meet.

Results: There were 1,622 injuries for an overall injury rate of 13.1/1,000 athletic exposures (AEs), i.e., participation of a runner in a practice or meet. Girls had a significantly higher overall injury rate (16.7/1,000 AEs) than boys (10.9/1,000 AEs) (p < 0.0001). Girls also had significantly higher injury rates than boys for both initial (p < 0.0001) and subsequent injuries (p < 0.0001), especially those at the same body location (p = 0.0001). This difference in risk estimates was consistent over a 15-year period. Nearly three-fourths of the injuries resulted in < or =4 days of disability. Overall, higher rates of initial injuries were reported during practices (9.2/1,000 AEs) than in meets (7.8/1,000 AEs) (p = 0.04). Shin injuries had the highest overall rates of new injury (1.9/1,000 AEs) and reinjury at the same body location (53.9/1,000 AEs). Girls had significantly higher initial injury rates than boys for shin (p < 0.0001), hip. and foot injuries (p < 0.01), and higher reinjury rates for knee. calf, and foot injuries, respectively (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that girl cross country runners are at higher risk of injury and reinjury than boy cross country runners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Running / injuries*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports Medicine