Factors Influencing Running-Related Musculoskeletal Injury Risk Among U.S. Military Recruits

Mil Med. 2016 Jun;181(6):512-23. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00143.


Running-related musculoskeletal injuries among U.S. military recruits negatively impact military readiness. Low aerobic fitness, prior injury, and weekly running distance are known risk factors. Physical fitness screening and remedial physical training (or discharging the most poorly fit recruits) before entry-level military training have tended to reduce injury rates while decreasing attrition, training, and medical costs. Incorporating anaerobic running sessions into training programs can offset decreased weekly running distance and decrease injury risk. Varying lower extremity loading patterns, stride length or cadence manipulation, and hip stability/strengthening programming may further decrease injury risk. No footstrike pattern is ideal for all runners; transitioning to forefoot striking may reduce risk for hip, knee, or tibial injuries, but increase risk for calf, Achilles, foot or ankle injuries. Minimal evidence associates running surfaces with injury risk. Footwear interventions should focus on proper fit and comfort; the evidence does not support running shoe prescription per foot type to reduce injury risk among recruits. Primary injury mitigation efforts should focus on physical fitness screening, remedial physical training (or discharge for unfit recruits), and continued inclusion of anaerobic running sessions to offset decreased weekly running distance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Military Personnel*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Shoes / adverse effects
  • Shoes / classification
  • Shoes / standards*
  • United States