Why Are You Running and Does It Hurt? Pain, Motivations and Beliefs about Injury Prevention among Participants of a Large-Scale Public Running Event

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 7;16(19):3766. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16193766.


Organized running events have gained substantial popularity. This study aimed to elucidate the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, knowledge about injury prevention as well as the attitudes and motivations of individuals participating in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge in Frankfurt (Germany). A total of 720 recreational runners completed a digital questionnaire immediately prior to the start. The majority of them displayed low to moderate physical activity levels and were rather unambitious regarding targeted finishing time. One quarter (25.3%) participated for the first time in an organized race. The most stated reasons to register were team building (76.4%) and experiencing the run's atmosphere (50.6%). In contrast, improving health played a minor role (19.4%). More than one in five individuals (n = 159 runners) reported pain, with the most common locations being the knee and lower back. Both at rest (3.2/10 on a numerical rating scale) and during activity (4.7/10), average pain intensity was clinically relevant. Almost three thirds of the participants believed that stretching and wearing appropriate shoes would be effective for injury prevention while other methods such as resistance training, balance exercise or wearing of orthoses were rarely named. Musculoskeletal pain is a significant burden in runners participating in an urban mass event. In view of the poor knowledge about injury prevention, organizers and coaches may consider offering structured preparation programs as well as tailored running-related health education.

Keywords: exercise; musculoskeletal; pain; physical activity; race; running.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Running / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Warm-Up Exercise
  • Young Adult