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Am J Sports Med. 2006 Sep;34(9):1500-7. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

Exercise-related leg pain in female collegiate athletes: the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

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Department of Physical Therapy, Saint Louis University, Doisy College of Health Sciences, St Louis, MO 63104, USA.



Exercise-related leg pain is a common complaint among athletes, but there is little evidence regarding risk factors for this condition in female collegiate athletes.


To examine prospectively the effect of selected extrinsic and intrinsic factors on the development of exercise-related leg pain in female collegiate athletes.


Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.


Subjects were 76 female collegiate athletes participating in fall season sports, including cross-country running, field hockey, soccer, and volleyball. Athletes were seen for a pre-season examination that included measures of height, weight, foot pronation, and calf muscle length as well as a questionnaire for disordered eating behaviors. Body mass index was calculated from height and weight (kg/m(2)). Those athletes who developed exercise-related leg pain during the season were seen for follow-up. All athletes who developed the condition and a matched group without such leg pain underwent bone mineral density and body composition testing. Statistical analyses of differences and relationships were conducted.


Of the 76 athletes, 58 (76%) reported a history of exercise-related leg pain, and 20 (26%) reported occurrence of exercise-related leg pain during the season. A history of this condition was strongly associated with its occurrence during the season (odds ratio, 13.2). Exercise-related leg pain was most common among field hockey and cross-country athletes and least common among soccer players. There were no differences between athletes with and without such leg pain regarding age, muscle length, self-reported eating behaviors, body mass index, menstrual function, or bone mineral density. Athletes with exercise-related leg pain had significantly (P < .05) greater navicular drop compared with those without.


Exercise-related leg pain was common among this group of female athletes. The results suggest that there are certain factors, including foot pronation, sport, and a history of this condition, that are associated with an increased risk of exercise-related leg pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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