Context: Recent injury-surveillance data for collegiate-level cross-country athletes are limited.
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's cross-country injuries during the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting: Aggregate injury and exposure data collected from 25 men's and 22 women's cross-country programs, providing 47 and 43 seasons of data, respectively.
Patients or other participants: Collegiate student-athletes participating in men's and women's cross-country during the 2009-2010 through 2013-2014 academic years.
Main outcome measure(s): Injury rates; injury rate ratios (RRs); injury proportions by body site, diagnosis, and apparatus; and injury proportion ratios were reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: The Injury Surveillance Program captured 216 injuries from men's cross-country and 260 injuries from women's cross-country, leading to injury rates of 4.66/1000 athlete-exposures (AEs) for men (95% CI = 4.04, 5.28) and 5.85/1000 AEs for women (95% CI = 5.14, 6.56). The injury rate in women's cross-country was 1.25 times that of men's cross-country (95% CI = 1.05, 1.50). Most injuries affected the lower extremity (men = 90.3%, women = 81.9%). The hip/groin-injury rate in women (0.65/1000 AEs) was higher than that in men (0.15/1000 AEs; RR = 4.32; 95% CI = 1.89, 9.85). The ankle-injury rate in men (0.60/1000 AEs) was higher than that in women (0.29/1000 AEs; RR = 2.07; 95% CI = 1.07, 3.99). Common diagnoses were strains (men = 19.9%, women = 20.4%) and inflammation (men = 18.1%, women = 23.8%). The majority of injuries were classified as overuse (men = 57.6%, women = 53.3%).
Conclusions: Consistent with prior research, injury distributions varied between male and female athletes, and the injury rate among females was higher. Understanding the epidemiology of these cross-country injuries may be important for developing appropriate preventive interventions.
Keywords: collegiate sports; distance running; injury prevention.