Factors associated with triathlon-related overuse injuries

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Apr;33(4):177-84. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2003.33.4.177.


Study design: Descriptive correlational investigation.

Objectives: To assess the incidence of, and potential risk factors associated with, overuse injury in triathlon.

Background: The sport of triathlon is rapidly increasing in popularity with a concomitant rise in the prevalence of injuries sustained by triathletes.

Methods and measures: The training and injury patterns of 131 triathletes were surveyed over a 10-week prospective period during the triathlon competition season. A complementary retrospective 6-month analysis of training history and prior overuse injuries was conducted.

Results: Fifty percent of triathletes sustained an injury in the 6-month preseason at an injury exposure rate of 2.5 per 1000 training hours. Thirty-seven percent were injured during the 10-week competition season at an injury exposure rate of 4.6 per 1000 training hours. Overuse accounted for 68% of preseason and 78% of competition season injuries reported. Increased years of triathlon experience, high running mileage, history of previous injury, and inadequate warming-up and cooling-down regimes appeared to have individual associations with injury incidence. When interactions were included in a multiple logistic regression model, increasing years of triathlon experience was the most significant predictor of preseason injury risk and a previous history of injury and high preseason running mileage increased the risk of injury during the competition season.

Conclusions: The results indicate that in assessing triathletes, a full training and competition history is required by the sports clinician for a comprehensive assessment of the factors that may contribute to overuse injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Physical Education and Training / statistics & numerical data
  • Recurrence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / statistics & numerical data
  • Swimming / injuries*
  • Swimming / statistics & numerical data
  • Time