Risk factors for injuries among new runners

We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t worked out for six weeks or six years. At some point we all think that we need to get more – or at least some – exercise.Senior woman jogging

Running is a popular choice among adults trying to lose weight and get in shape. Unfortunately, I see many new runners in my practice who suffer injuries weeks after starting. Are there any risk factors that could predict a new runner’s risk of getting hurt?

Recent study

In a study published recently in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, Rasmus Nielsen and others looked at injuries among novice Danish runners. They followed 930 healthy runners for one year. They then tried to assess the influence of factors like age, sex, body weight, type of behavior, sports activity, prior running experience, and prior injuries.

Risk factors for running injuries

The researchers made some interesting observations:

• 254 of the 930 new runners sustained an injury within one year.
• Obese individuals (body mass index greater than 30) had the highest risk of injury among all of the body mass groups.
• Increased age correlated with increased injuries. New runners older than 45 were most likely to get injured.
• Type A individuals (personalities characterized as impatient, competitive, or hyperactive) were found to have fewer injuries than people with Type B behavior (relaxed or laid back).

Interestingly, factors that seemed to have little or no effect on injuries among novice runners included sex, sports activity, running experience, or prior running-related injury.

Are you surprised by these findings? Why do you think some of these qualities, like behavior, affect the risk of injuries? I’d love to hear your ideas!

The Dr. David Geier ShowWho is most likely to suffer injuries when starting a running program? In the Zone segment from Episode 96 of The Dr. David Geier Show


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Nielsen RO, Buist I, Parner ET, et al. Predictors of Running-Related Injuries Among 930 Novice Runners: A 1-Year Prospective Follow-up Study. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013 1(1).

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