Factors associated with injuries in road-runners at a local athletic club
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Across the world, physical inactivity was found to be associated with cardiovascular and chronic diseases of lifestyle which often leads to an increased rate of various physical disabilities and premature death. To combat these high incidences of chronic diseases of lifestyle, WHO strongly encourages people to become physically active on a daily basis to reduce the risk of premature death. Running has thus become the preferred choice of physical activity by thousands of people to help improve their overall health and wellbeing. Apart from the health benefits that running provides, it can also predispose the runner to potential injury especially when runners follow an inappropriate training programme and have inadequate knowledge about factors causing injury. Therefore, baseline data about the prevalence, incidence of injury and the identification of the aetiological factors associated with running injuries are needed to develop and implement preventative programmes to allow runners to optimally perform in training and races without injury. In South Africa, there is limited research available on the incidence of injury in runners yet there is an annual increase in participation in races such as Two Oceans and Comrades marathon which could lead to an increase in the number of running injuries.Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of injuries and identify the various risk factors that are associated with injuries in road runners at a local athletic club. Methods: A prospective cohort study design over a 16 week period using quantitative research methods was used. A sample of 50 runners had consented to participate in the study. The participants had to complete a self-administered questionnaire and clinical measurements of BMI, Q-angle, leglength, muscle strength of lower leg and ROM of hip and knee were recorded. The participants had to complete an injury report form to record any new injuries sustained over the 16 week period of the study. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18 and software SAS v9 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA) was used for data capturing and analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistics were done to summarize the data and was expressed as frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations. Injury prevalence and cumulative incidence was calculated as a proportion rate along with 95% confidence interval. The Poisson regression model was used to analyse the association between running injury and the independent variables of interest such as demographics, anthropometric measurements, training methods, running experience and previous injury. The alpha level was set as p< 0.05. Results: The study found that the majority (92%) of the participants (n=46) sustained running injuries in the past prior to the study. A total of 16 participants sustained a number of 50 new injuries over the 16 week study period. Thus the prevalence rate of injuries was 32%. The incidence rate of injuries for this study was 0.67 per 1000km run at a 95% confidence interval of 0.41, 1.08. Furthermore, the most common location of new injuries reported were the calf (20%) and the second most common location was the knee (18%). PFPS was the most common type of knee injury diagnosed, followed by lumbar joint sprain. The results showed that none of the identified factors (running distance, stretching, age, Q-angle, BMI, running experience, leg-length discrepancy and previous running injuries) were directly associated with running injuries. However, a marginal significance was found for running distance (p = 0.08) and leg length discrepancy (p = 0.06). Conclusions: The study found a high prevalence and incidence rate of injury thus the need for preventative programmes have been highlighted. There was no statistical significance found between the identified factors and risk of injury however, there was clinical relevance found between factors identified. One major limitation was the small sample of participants and the short duration of study period. Thus, future research is needed to further determine possible factors associated with running injuries over a longer period and including a larger sample. The results of the study will be made available to all the stakeholders (runners, coaches and medical team) to implement in athletic club.