Musculoskeletal injuries in track and field: incidence, distribution and risk factors

Aust J Sci Med Sport. 1996 Sep;28(3):69-75.


This study evaluated the incidence, distribution and types of musculoskeletal injuries sustained by 95 track and field athletes in a 12 month period using a retrospective cohort design, and analysed selected training, anthropometric, menstrual and clinical biomechanical risk factors. Overall, 72 athletes sustained 130 injuries giving an athlete incidence rate of 76% and an injury exposure rate of 3.9 per 1000 training hours. The majority of injuries were overuse in nature and approximately one-third of all injuries were recurrent. The risk of injury was not influenced by gender or event group. The most common sites of injury were the leg (28%), thigh (22%) and knee (16%) with the most common diagnoses being stress fractures (21%) and hamstring strains (14%). Injury patterns varied between event groups with middle-distance and distance runners sustaining more overuse injuries, and sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and multi event athletes more acute injuries (p < 0.05). Increasing age, greater overall flexibility and a greater prevalence of menstrual disturbances were associated with a greater likelihood of injury. The results of this study show that track and field athletes are at high risk for musculoskeletal injury and that it may be possible to identify those who are more likely to sustain an injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Anthropometry
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Track and Field / injuries*