A step towards understanding the mechanisms of running-related injuries

Laurent Malisoux*, Rasmus Oestergaard Nielsen, Axel Urhausen, Daniel Theisen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    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 <2 h and ≥2 h) 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 <2 h (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
    Pages (from-to)523-528
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


    • Effect-measure modification
    • Injury mechanism
    • Sports injury prevention
    • Training load monitoring


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