BRINGING SCIENCE TO TREATMENT

Run of the mill injuries for track and field events

Oct 2 2019 World Athletics Championships  Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Common sense tells us that athletes who play certain sports tend to suffer particular injuries. However, we lack the data to substantiate which athletes have more particular injury prevention needs. A group of researchers from France undertook the monumental task of surveying the injuries from international track and field championships and categorizing them according to the particular events(1). They derived the data from 14 international championships between 2007 to 2018.

Nearly 90% of the medical teams surveyed returned injury data. During the survey period, personnel reported 1530 injuries out of a pool of 8925 athletes. The injuries occurred in 928 male and 597 female athletes. The most injuries occurred while sprinting, in both males and females. Beyond that, males suffered injuries during jumps and middle distance runs while women were injured more often while running long distances and jumping (see table 1).


Incidence of injury from 14 international track and field championships

 Males   Females   
SportLocation of injuryTissue InjuredCause of InjuryTime lost from sportLocation of injuryTissue injuredCause of InjuryTime lost from sport
SprintsThigh (52%)Muscles (68%)Overuse (43%)
Trauma (39%)
0 days (39%)
7 days (24%)
828 days (23%)
Thigh (38%)
Foot (13%)
Trunk (11%)
Muscles (49%)
Skin (15%)
Overuse (50%)
0 days (50%)
7 days (23%)
HurdlesThigh (38%)
Hip/groin (13%)
Muscles (51%)
Skin (24%)
Trauma (51%)0 days (40%)
>8 days (26%)
Thigh (22%)
Knee (19%)
arms (17%)
Skin (31%)
Muscles (27%)
Ligaments (24%)
Trauma (53%)0 days (41%)
<7 days (27%)
>8 days (20%)
JumpsThigh (25%)
Foot (13%)
Knee (12%)
Ankle (12%)
Muscles (40%)
Tendons (15%)
Joints (14%)
Overuse (39%)
Trauma (39%)
0 days (44%)
<7 days (21%)
>8 days (22%)
Thigh (20%)
Trunk (14%)
Muscles (35%)
Skin (18%)
Tendon(16%)
Trauma (44%)
0 days (51%)
ThrowsArm (20%)
Trunk (20%)
Knee (16%)
Muscles (47%)
Ligaments (22%)
Overuse (49%)0 days (49%)
>8 days (27%)
Trunk (28%)
Arm (18%)
Lower leg (16%)
Muscles (31%)
Tendons (19%)
Ligaments (19%)
Overuse (53%)
Trauma (41%)
0 days (53%)
Combined Events Thigh (20%)
Ankle (16%)
Knee (14%)
Muscles (30%)
Skin (22%)
Tendons (18%)
Trauma (43%)
Overuse (37%)
0 days (40%)
>8 days (21%)
Thigh (22%)
Knee (17%)
Trunk (14%)
Muscles (39%)
Ligaments (28%)
Tendon (12%)
Overuse (40%)
Trauma (40%)
0 days (37%)
<7 days (22%)
>8 days (22%)
Middle DistanceLower leg (30%)
Foot (18%)
Skin (53%)
Muscles (19%)
Trauma (57%)
0 days (69%)Lower leg (29%)
Thighs (21%)
Skin (48%)
Muscles (19%)
Tendon (18%)
Trauma (48%)0 days (59%)
Long Distance Lower leg (41%)Skin (48%)
Muscles (25%)
Trauma (53%)0 days 49%)
<7 days (26%)
Lower leg (37%)Skin (43%)
Muscles (30%)
Trauma (49%)0 days (39%)
<7 days (30%)
>8 days (24%)
Marathon Foot (23%)
Lower leg (22%)
Thigh (17%)
Muscles (50%)Overuse (70%)0 days (36%)
<7 days (30%)
Foot (24%)
Lower leg (22%)
Thigh (15%)
Muscles (31%)
Skin (22%)
Ligaments (18%)
Tendon (16%)
Overuse (69%)0 days (40%)
<7 days (27%)
Race WalkingThigh (30%)
Trunk (15%)
Muscles (62%)Overuse (75%)0 days (33%)
<7 days (30%)
Foot (33%)
Thighs (25%)
Skin (50%)
Muscles (25%)
Overuse (67%)0 days (50%)
>7 days (25%)

Of note, one-quarter of the injuries were suffered when sprinting. The combined events, marathon, and long distances had the largest amount of casualties per 1000 athletes. Knowing the competitive events with the highest injury risk allows trainers and physios to be extra vigilant of these athletes for the month or so leading up to a competition.  Understanding the often high risk of injury during competition should also compel clinicians to emphasize injury prevention strategies throughout the season.

That said, the investigators caution drawing too many conclusions from the data. These numbers were collected during a finite period of time during which the athletes were under the stress of competition. Individual risk is impossible to determine from this study. However, the study confirms that certain events present with particular injury patterns. Thigh muscle injuries dominated the shorter distance events and should alert practitioners to evaluate the strength and function of quadriceps and hamstring muscles in elite competitors.

Reference

  1. Br J Sports Med. 2019;0:1-9.doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-100717
Share this
Follow us