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Research regarding who's at risk for running injuries

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As a runner, you likely often hear people say that you are putting yourself at risk for injuries. Truth be told, no matter what type of exercise you do you are increasing your injury risks. But being sedentary comes with a lot more risks, so it's better to be active, including if your choice of physical activity is running.

Research published in the May 2018 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, reported the findings of a two-year study on running injuries. The research was conducted because the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control called for more rigorous analysis of running injuries, as they believed that there were flaws in the running research injury information that was available. 

The two-year study that was conducted include 300 runners who ran a minimum of 5 miles per week and had been injury free for at least six months. The researchers evaluated the runners over the two-year period and analyzed the data. They found that over that time frame, 199 of them (66%) sustained at least one running injury, and of those injured 111 (56%) sustained more than one running injury. They also found that 73% of the women sustained an injury, compared to 62% of the men.

So what were the factors that stood out to the researchers as being those that increased running injury risks? They concluded that:

  • Women end up sustaining running injuries more often than men do.
  • There is a greater risk for knee stiffness when someone is over 176 pounds. In fact, they found that running injury risks significantly increase when someone is over 176 pounds.
  • Although many people have long believed otherwise, things such as flexibility, arch height, quadriceps angle, rearfoot motion, lower extremity strength, weekly mileage, footwear, and previous injury are not significant factors across all running injuries.

As runners we don't want injuries as it can keep us from getting out there. The more we know about what increases running injury risks, the more we can help to avoid them. This research indicates that it is not the things that people have long believed that increase injury risks. The weight of the runner plays in important role in injury risks, and things like footwear and lower extremity strength play less of a role than most people believed.

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