Intrinsic factors associated with exercise-related leg pain in collegiate cross-country runners

Clin J Sport Med. 2006 Jan;16(1):10-4. doi: 10.1097/01.jsm.0000188041.04760.d2.


Objectives: This study (1) examined the occurrence of exercise-related leg pain (ERLP) in collegiate cross-country athletes and (2) compared structural factors in runners with and without ERLP history.

Study design: Cross-sectional design comparing 2 groups of cross-country athletes (with and without ERLP history).

Setting: Intercollegiate athletics.

Participants: A total of 63 athletes (30 males, 33 females) representing 2 cross-country teams consented to participate.

Measures: Athlete examination included self-report of ERLP history, active ankle dorsiflexion with knee extended and flexed, navicular drop (ND), and 1st ray length. ND index was calculated by dividing ND by 1st ray length. Athletes on 1 team (n = 32) were followed through 1 season to identify incidence of ERLP over the course of 1 season. Independent t tests were used to compare structural measures of those with and without ERLP history, and chi2 was used to examine frequencies.

Results: Of the 63 athletes, 33 (52%) reported ERLP history; most reported medial leg pain and also bilateral symptoms. No differences in structural measures were found between those with and without ERLP history. Ten of 32 athletes (31%) reported the occurrence of ERLP during the fall season, 8 of whom had a history of ERLP.

Conclusions: Exercise-related leg pain was a common complaint among these athletes, usually occurring bilaterally and located along the medial leg. Athletes with ERLP history did not have a greater foot pronation as measured by ND, nor was there limited ankle range of motion as compared with those without ERLP history. Further research is needed to identify factors associated with the development of ERLP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / pathology*
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pronation
  • Running / injuries*