Going the Distance: Taking a Closer Look at the Injury Risks for First-Time Marathon Runners


Newswise — Brett Toresdahl, MD presented a research abstract examining injury rates for first time marathoners at the 28th Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Houston, TX.

Injuries are common among first-time marathon runners. But Dr. Toresdahl, primary care sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery, wanted to determine the specific injury risk factors of those runners, including their training regimens leading up to the race, to get a better idea of injury trends for these runners.

“Every year in the United States there are over a half million marathon finishers and a significant proportion of runners training for a marathon are affected by an overuse injury,” Dr. Toresdahl said. “Research is needed to guide training strategies with a goal of reducing injuries, especially among high-risk groups such as first-time marathon runners.”  

The study kept track of more than 700 first-time marathon runners registered for the 2017 New York City Marathon starting 12 weeks prior to the race. Researchers gathered data about their demographics, height and weight and running history, and the athletes self-reported their running frequency, distance and injuries every two weeks.

The data found that a higher number of weekly training runs led to increased risk of injury, and the same goes for runners who did not complete a training run of at least 18 miles leading up to the marathon. Researchers also found that obese runners tended to have a higher risk of injury versus normal or overweight runners. “By taking a first step with this study to identify training patterns associated with overuse injuries, we can begin to create evidence-based training guidance for first-time marathon runners with the goal of keeping more runners injury-free and able to achieve their goal of finishing a marathon,” Dr. Toresdahl said.

About the AMSSM Annual Meeting: The 2019 AMSSM Annual Meeting brings more than 2,000 sports medicine physicians together from throughout the United States and around the world. The meeting theme is, “Small Steps and Giant Leaps in Sports Medicine,” and explores the great accomplishments, evolving technology and the accumulation of new knowledge in the field of sports medicine.

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,800 sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. The majority of AMSSM members are primary care physicians with fellowship training and added qualification in sports medicine who then combine their practice of sports medicine with their primary specialty.

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