Training errors and running related injuries: a systematic review

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb;7(1):58-75.


Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the link between training characteristics (volume, duration, frequency, and intensity) and running related injuries.

Methods: A systematic search was performed in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and SportDiscus. Studies were included if they examined novice, recreational, or elite runners between the ages of 18 and 65. Exposure variables were training characteristics defined as volume, distance or mileage, time or duration, frequency, intensity, speed or pace, or similar terms. The outcome of interest was Running Related Injuries (RRI) in general or specific RRI in the lower extremity or lower back. Methodological quality was evaluated using quality assessment tools of 11 to 16 items.

Results: After examining 4561 titles and abstracts, 63 articles were identified as potentially relevant. Finally, nine retrospective cohort studies, 13 prospective cohort studies, six case-control studies, and three randomized controlled trials were included. The mean quality score was 44.1%. Conflicting results were reported on the relationships between volume, duration, intensity, and frequency and RRI.

Conclusion: It was not possible to identify which training errors were related to running related injuries. Still, well supported data on which training errors relate to or cause running related injuries is highly important for determining proper prevention strategies. If methodological limitations in measuring training variables can be resolved, more work can be conducted to define training and the interactions between different training variables, create several hypotheses, test the hypotheses in a large scale prospective study, and explore cause and effect relationships in randomized controlled trials.

Level of evidence: 2a.

Keywords: Duration; frequency; injuries; intensity; running; training; volume.