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J Sports Sci Med. 2019 Feb 11;18(1):21-31. eCollection 2019 Mar.

The Proportion of Lower Limb Running Injuries by Gender, Anatomical Location and Specific Pathology: A Systematic Review.

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Musculoskeletal Health Research Group, School of Clinical and Applied Sciences, Leeds Beckett University, UK.
Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.
Centre for Pain Research, School of Clinical and Applied Sciences, Leeds Beckett University, UK.


Running is associated with a higher risk of overuse injury than other forms of aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling. An accurate description of the proportion of running injuries per anatomical location and where possible, per specific pathology, for both genders is required. The aim of this review was to determine the proportion of lower limb running injuries by anatomical location and by specific pathology in male and female runners (≥800m - ≤ marathon). The preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines were followed for this review. A literature search was performed with no restriction on publication year in Web of Science, Scopus, Sport-Discus, PubMed, and CINAHL up to July 2017. Retrospective, cross-sectional, prospective and randomised-controlled studies which surveyed injury data in runners were included. 36 studies were included to report the overall proportion of injury per anatomical location. The overall proportion of injury by specific pathology was reported from 11 studies. The knee (28%), ankle-foot (26%) and shank (16%) accounted for the highest proportion of injury in male and female runners, although the proportion of knee injury was greater in women (40% vs. 31%). Relative to women, men had a greater proportion of ankle-foot (26% vs. 19%) and shank (21% vs. 16%) injuries. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS; 17%), Achilles tendinopathy (AT; 10%) and medial tibial stress syndrome (MTS; 8%) accounted for the highest proportion of specific pathologies recorded overall. There was insufficient data to sub-divide specific pathology between genders. The predominate injury in female runners is to the knee. Male runners have a more even distribution of injury between the knee, shank and ankle-foot complex. There are several methodological issues, which limit the interpretation of epidemiological data in running injury.


Running; epidemiology; injury; injury prevention


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