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Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review

updated

Tags: running, orthotics, patellar pain, knee, IT band pain, shin pain, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, foot, leg, limbs, pain problems, biomechanics, etiology, pro, devices, arthritis, aging, overuse injury, injury, tendinosis

Three articles on PainSci cite van Gent 2007: (1) The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome(2) The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome(3) IT Band & Patellofemoral Pain Defy Common Sense

PainSci notes on van Gent 2007:

After reviewing 11 high quality studies (mostly prospective cohort studies) of how frequently long-distance runners injure themselves, this report found “a large range” of 19% to 79%, mostly in the knee (7-50%), followed by the lower leg and then foot. There was strong evidence for only two risk factors — a history of other injuries and lots of running every week for men (>64km/week) — and nothing else. There was only limited or conflicting evidence for practically every other imaginable risk factor: age, sex, leg length differences, alcohol consumption, or training factors like experience, shoe age, and running surfaces and many more.

Curiously, the authors also found “strong evidence that increased training distance per week was a protective factor, although only for knee injuries” but they caution that it’s not clear why, and “the relation between distance and injury may not be simple and there may be a fine balance between overuse and underconditioning among long distance runners.” Understatement.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The purpose of this study was to present a systematic overview of published reports on the incidence and associated potential risk factors of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners. An electronic database search was conducted using the PubMed-Medline database. Two observers independently assessed the quality of the studies and a best evidence synthesis was used to summarise the results. The incidence of lower extremity running injuries ranged from 19.4% to 79.3%. The predominant site of these injuries was the knee. There was strong evidence that a long training distance per week in male runners and a history of previous injuries were risk factors for injuries, and that an increase in training distance per week was a protective factor for knee injuries.

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