Musculoskeletal pain is prevalent among recreational runners who are about to compete: an observational study of 1049 runners

J Physiother. 2011;57(3):179-82. doi: 10.1016/S1836-9553(11)70039-X.


Question: What is the prevalence and nature of musculoskeletal pain in recreational runners immediately before a race?

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Participants: Adults intending to compete in a recreational running race between 5000 and 10 000 metres.

Measures: Demographic data collected about the respondents included: age, gender, height, weight, duration of running experience, distance run per week, number of training sessions per week, training surface, and use of coaching. Respondents were asked if they had any pain. If pain was present, data were collected regarding its location, duration, current intensity, and behaviour. All data were self-reported.

Results: Data were collected from 1049 runners at five recreational races in São Paulo, Brazil. Of these respondents, 227 (22%) reported musculoskeletal pain before the race. Male respondents reported a greater running experience, a higher distance run per week, and a greater body mass index. Despite this, the prevalence of pain was 20% among the 796 male respondents and 27% among the 253 female respondents (RR 1.35, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.72). Where pain was present, it was typical of overuse injuries and its duration, intensity, and behaviour were similar between male and female respondents.

Conclusion: The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in recreational runners about to compete is substantial. Physiotherapists might be able to circumvent worsening of existing overuse injuries in this population with advice and preventive interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Recreation
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires