Running the Risk: Discussing the Factors that Increase a Runner’s Risk for Injury

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Getting injured is probably the quickest way to derail your running. Training might be going so well, then BAM, now your knee is throbbing… preventing you from running. Studies show that approximately 75% of runners get injured every year. That number is crazy! There is a lot of speculation as to why this number is so high… probably mostly due to high amounts of misinformation circulating the running community. Although we know that the number one reason why runners get injured is due to…

TRAINING ERRORS

This refers to all of the following:

  • Ramping up mileage too quickly

  • A premature increase in pace

  • A drastic change in training load (mileage, ascent/descent, pace)

  • Not enough rest

  • Doing high intensity training runs too close together

  • A sudden change in training terrain (concrete vs. technical trails)

  • Planning races too close together

injured runner

We also know that there are other factors that can increase a runner’s risk for acquiring a running-related injury.

Here’s a list of other factors that may contribute to a runner’s risk for injury:

  • Health factors

    • Stress

    • Poor nutrition

    • Not getting enough sleep

  • Drastic changes to running form

  • Lack of strength training

  • Lack of participation in impact sports during developmental/pubescent years

  • Age

  • Increased body weight

  • Women > Men

  • Previous injury

running injury

Now that we know the factors that may increase a runner’s risk for injury, it’s important to talk about the factors that a lot of runners tend to think increase their risk for injury, that may not be true.

Here’s a list of common factors runners often think relate to their risk for injury, but isn’t strongly supported by researcH:

  • Footwear

  • Arch height/degree of pronation

  • Quadriceps angle (women with wider hips)

  • Stretching

  • Foam rolling

Female runners

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Another factor to consider, is that females tend to be at higher risk for running-related injuries, especially bone stress injuries (like a stress fracture). This is highly related to how diet and exercise can influence hormones in the female body. These hormones are extremely important for bone development and general health. Hormone production can be disrupted when the female athlete is in a state of caloric or nutritional deficit, usually from a combination of expending more calories through training than she is taking in. In serious situations, this is referred to as Female Athlete Triad. So ladies, pay attention and consult a dietitian if you are concerned about any risk factors below.

Here’s a list of factors that Can place a female at a higher risk for injury:

  • BMI <18.5

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Absent or missed menstrual cycles

  • Late first menstruation (at or after 15 years of age

ultimately, train smart and stay strong

It’s important to know the facts about what actually can increase your risk for injury, that way runners can focus on what really matters. All-in-all, avoid training errors at all costs. Train smart, if that means getting advice from a professional… then do it. Take note of the secondary factors that can relate to risk for injury, and do your best. Eat well, get enough sleep, start strength training, lose weight if you need to, and manage your stress. Preventing an injury will allow for consistent training, which in turn will significantly increase your chances of meeting your running goals.


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