Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Study Spotlight: Males vs. Females: Is One Sex at Greater Risk for Running Injuries

By: Joel Luedke

Running injury rates have been reported to be as high as 75-80% of runners being injured at some point during their training.  There has been plenty of discussion on why runners get injured and more specifically if there is a difference in injury rates between men and women.  It is often thought that women are set up to be injured more due to increased Q-angles (i.e. hip angle) and possibly decreased strength compared to men.

What They Did:
A study by Maha Elashi looked a injury rates between men and women who were going to be preparing for a 10K by utilizing a 12-week training program (for more details please click on the link below).  

What They Found:
They hypothesized they would see greater injury rates in women but what they found was that there was no difference at all.  Women had an injury rate of 3.66 (per 1000 training session) and men had an injury rate of 3.56 (per 1000 training sessions).

This was surprising even to myself an my experience in working with runners of all distances in track and field.  The general trend I saw in working with that population showed much higher injury rates for women than men including chronic injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome and stress fractures just to name a few.  When working to correct these issues in that setting we found that working on general body strength greatly decreased injury rates and helped our female runners run with less injury.

Take Home Point:  
Now this study did not look at high level runners in their training and their injury rates, it looked at a recreational population training for a 10K.  The injury rates overall are very low in this study which is great to see but as they are so equal and not statistically significant I think this shows us a bigger picture that we need to focus on and that is teaching running as a skill and not something we just innately know how to do.  We practice every other sport with dedicated intensity to get better at it and refine technique but we do not do the same thing with running.  Dedication to this would help reduce injury rates overall and help prepare people's bodies for the stress of running.

Not only is focusing on running form most likely going to make a difference when it comes to injury rate but also looking at general training.  Often building a good base of strength (nothing crazy) can help your body absorb the stress of running and utilize the muscles to absorb more of that force and keeping it off just your bones as much as possible.  

Bottom line is running shouldn't be painful, at least not consistently so make sure you address potential problems early.

For a new running technique and how to build up to it check out "The Running Revolution" by Nikolas Romanov

Thanks to Runners World for the original article.

Source: Elashi, Maha. Males vs. Females: Is One Sex at Greater Risk for Running Injuries.  UBC Environmental Physiology Lab. Feb. 12, 2015.

Check out our article on Heel Striking HERE

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