What do recreational runners think about risk factors for running injuries?

This study aimed to describe the beliefs and opinions of runners about risk factors related to running injuries. The health benefits of running not withstanding, a high prevalence of injury has been reported in runners. Preventive strategies for running injuries may be more successful with a better knowledge of runners’ beliefs. A semi-structured interview of recreational runners was based on the question, “What do you think can cause injuries in runners?” Analysis of the interviews was performed in 3 steps: (1) organizing the data into thematic units, (2) reading and reorganizing the data according to frequency of citation, and (3) interpreting and summarizing the data. The runner interviews were continued until no new beliefs and opinions of runners regarding injuries were being added to the data, indicating saturation of the topic. A total of 95 recreational runners (65 men, 30 women) between the ages of 19 and 71 years were interviewed. Of those interviewed, the average running experience was 5.5 years and approximately 45% had suffered a running-related injury in the past. The factors indicated by the runners were divided into extrinsic and intrinsic factors. The most cited extrinsic factors were “not stretching,” “excess of training,” “not warming up,” “lack of strength,” and “wearing the wrong shoes.” For the intrinsic factors, the main terms cited were “not respecting the body’s limitations” and “foot-type changes.”

Recreational runners primarily attributed injury to factors related to training, running shoes, and exceeding the body’s limits. Awareness of the factors identified in this study may add to the development of better educational strategies to prevent running injuries, as some of the runners’ beliefs are not supported by the research literature.