Runners Beliefs About the Risk Factors for Injury

An individual’s health beliefs can be both a hindrance and an aid to the prevention and clinical management of health issues. A runners beliefs about the risk factors for running injuries are part of that wider context of health beliefs, so it was good to see a study starting to explore those issues:

What Do Recreational Runners Think About Risk Factors for Running Injuries? A Descriptive Study Of Their Beliefs And Opinions
Bruno Tirotti Saragiotto, PT, MSc, Tiê Parma Yamato, PT, MSc, Alexandre Dias Lopes, PT, PhD
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, Epub 25 August 2014
Study Design Qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews.
Objectives To describe the beliefs and opinions of runners about risk factors associated with running injuries.
Background Despite the health benefits of running, 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.
Methods The semi-structured interview was based on the question: “What do you think can cause injuries in runners?” The analysis of the interviews was performed in 3 steps: 1) organising the data into thematic units; 2) reading and reorganising the data according to their frequencies; and 3) interpreting and summarising the data. Runner interviews were continued until saturation of the topic.
Results A total of 95 recreational runners (65 men and 30 women) between the ages of 19 and 71 years were interviewed. The average running experience was 5.5 years and approximately 45% of those interviewed had experienced a running related injury in the past. The factors suggested 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”.
Conclusion Recreational runners mainly attributed injury to factors related to training, running shoes, and exceeding the body’s limits. Knowing the factors identified in this study may contribute to the development of better preventive educational strategies on running injuries, as some of the runners’ beliefs are not supported by the research literature.

I like the study. There is a huge body of literature on how people’s health beliefs interfere with the prevention and management of clinical conditions whether this is the issues like the cause of the current Ebola outbreak; or the reasons for smoking during pregnancy; or what I’ve been involved in the past, barriers to treatment and prevention of complications due to their health beliefs in those with diabetes. So that’s why it’s good to see a study in the literature on the health beliefs of runners and how that may help or potentially interfere with the management of a running injury. I concur with the sentence on the author’s conclusion:

some of the runners’ beliefs are not supported by the research literature

..but probably would have more strongly stated it as:

some of the runners’ beliefs are contradicted by the research literature

That is a problem.

I know clinically, I always find it necessary during the information gathering stage to delve into a runners ‘belief’ system to see what they believe, before I start making recommendations for treatment and how I might frame those recommendations.

As always: I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise … and Dr Google has a lot to answer for.

dr google

Saragiotto, B., Yamato, T., & Lopes, A. (2014). What Do Recreational Runners Think About Risk Factors for Running Injuries? A Descriptive Study Of Their Beliefs And Opinions Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 1-18 DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2014.5710

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One Response to Runners Beliefs About the Risk Factors for Injury

  1. Kevin A. Kirby, DPM September 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm #


    Love your google internet medical certificate. Please send me a higher resolution one my way…I think I may start handing it out to some of my runner patients when they start going on about what they learned on the internet about running biomechanics…..


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