A step towards understanding the mechanisms of running-related injuries

Laurent Malisoux, R.O. Nielsen, Axel Urhausen, Daniel Theisen

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OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between training-related characteristics and running-related injury using a new conceptual model for running-related injury generation, focusing on the synergy between training load and previous injuries, short-term running experience or body mass index (> or <25kgm(-2)).

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study with a 9-month follow-up.

METHODS: The data of two previous studies using the same methodology were revisited. Recreational runners (n=517) reported information about running training characteristics (weekly distance, frequency, speed), other sport participation and injuries on a dedicated internet platform. Weekly volume (dichotomized into <2h and ≥2h) and session frequency (dichotomized into <2 and ≥2) were the main exposures because they were considered necessary causes for running-related injury. Non-training-related characteristics were included in Cox regression analyses as effect-measure modifiers. Hazard ratio was the measure of association. The size of effect-measure modification was calculated as the relative excess risk due to interaction.

RESULTS: One hundred sixty-seven runners reported a running-related injury. Crude analyses revealed that weekly volume <2h (hazard ratio=3.29; 95% confidence intervals=2.27; 4.79) and weekly session frequency <2 (hazard ratio=2.41; 95% confidence intervals=1.71; 3.42) were associated with increased injury rate. Previous injury was identified as an effect-measure modifier on weekly volume (relative excess risk due to interaction=4.69; 95% confidence intervals=1.42; 7.95; p=0.005) and session frequency (relative excess risk due to interaction=2.44; 95% confidence intervals=0.48; 4.39; p=0.015). A negative synergy was found between body mass index and weekly volume (relative excess risk due to interaction=-2.88; 95% confidence intervals=-5.10; -0.66; p=0.018).

CONCLUSIONS: The effect of a runner's training load on running-related injury is influenced by body mass index and previous injury. These results show the importance to distinguish between confounding and effect-measure modification in running-related injury research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Pages (from-to)523-8
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • sports injury prevention
  • training load monitoring
  • effect-measure modification
  • injury mechanism


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