Predictors of running-related injuries in novice runners enrolled in a systematic training program: a prospective cohort study

Am J Sports Med. 2010 Feb;38(2):273-80. doi: 10.1177/0363546509347985. Epub 2009 Dec 4.


Background: The popularity of running is still growing. As participation increases, running-related injuries also increase. Until now, little is known about the predictors for injuries in novice runners.

Hypothesis: Predictors for running-related injuries (RRIs) will differ between male and female novice runners.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: Participants were 532 novice runners (226 men, 306 women) preparing for a recreational 4-mile (6.7-km) running event. After completing a baseline questionnaire and undergoing an orthopaedic examination, they were followed during the training period of 13 weeks. An RRI was defined as any self-reported running-related musculoskeletal pain of the lower extremity or back causing a restriction of running for at least 1 week.

Results: Twenty-one percent of the novice runners had at least one RRI during follow-up. The multivariate adjusted Cox regression model for male participants showed that body mass index (BMI) (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.26), previous injury in the past year (HR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.36-5.55), and previous participation in sports without axial load (HR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.03-4.11) were associated with RRI. In female participants, only navicular drop (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.75-0.97) remained a significant predictor for RRI in the multivariate Cox regression modeling. Type A behavior and range of motion (ROM) of the hip and ankle did not affect risk.

Conclusion: Male and female novice runners have different risk profiles. Higher BMI, previous injury, and previous sports participation without axial loading are important predictors for RRI in male participants. Further research is needed to detect more predictors for female novice runners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / injuries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult