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Injuries common among recreational runners: study

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Photo: lzf/iStockphoto

Gothenburg, Sweden — Nearly half of all recreational runners sustain injuries, according to the results of a yearlong study out of Sweden.

Conducted by University of Gothenburg doctoral student Jonatan Jungmalm, the study involved more than 200 male and female runners who ranged in age from 18 to 55, had run an average of 9.3 miles a week or more for at least one year, and were injury-free for at least six months before the study. The runners – recruited from a list of participants in a half-marathon – kept a training diary, charting daily distances and pain levels.

Over the course of the 12-month study period, 46% of the participants experienced injuries. Knees (27% of all injuries) and Achilles tendons/calves (25%) were the most affected areas.

“Few of the injuries were long-lasting,” Jungmalm said in a press release. “But all the injuries prevented the runners from exercising as usual.”

No differences were found in terms of gender, age, running experience or weight between the participants who injured themselves and those who did not. However, the runners who had a previous injury were nearly twice as likely to incur an injury as those who didn’t have an injury history.

“It is important for improving and maintaining general health to engage in regular physical activity,” Jungmalm writes in the study. “A major barrier to retain in regular physical activity is quitting because of an injury. In running, one of the most practice leisure-time physical activities on a global scale, injuries are unfortunately common.”


The Cleveland Clinic offers tips to help prevent running-related injuries, including:

  • Wear and maintain proper running shoes.
  • Stretch or engage in flexibility exercises such as yoga.
  • Engage in strength training.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Consult your doctor before beginning a training program.

The study, which represents Jungmalm’s doctoral thesis, was published online.

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