Shin splints most common musculoskeletal injury in runners

The common form of musculoskeletal injury in runners is medial tibia stress syndrome, commonly known as shin splints, followed by achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis, show the results of a systematic review.

The researchers note that this fits with current theories that state that running injuries primarily occur due to the overloading of the musculoskeletal structures caused by repetitive microtrauma over a long period of time.

"The identification of the main injuries is important as this can direct physicians, coaches, healthcare professionals and researchers to channel their resources on how to develop specific prevention and intervention strategies to decrease both the incidence and severity of these injuries," comment Luiz Hespanhol (Universidade Cidade de São Paulo, Brazil) and colleagues.

For the current study, the researchers performed a literature search of five electronic databases for running-related musculoskeletal injuries (RRMIs).

They found eight studies of runners that were suitable for analysis: two prospective cohort studies, one clinical trial, two retrospective cohorts, and three cross-sectional studies.

Five of the studies evaluated the incidence or prevalence of the general RRMIs and three studies captured the RRMIs during ultramarathon races. To estimate the incident rate of the RRMIs, the capturing period for the three studies was 12 months, while for the prevalence, the retrospective periods were 12 and 24 months, respectively.

From a pooled population of 3500 runners there were a total of 28 RRMIs reported.

The most frequently reported general RRMIs were medial tibial stress syndrome (incidence rate 13.6-20.0%; prevalence rate 9.5%), achilles tendinopathy (incidence rate 9.1-10.9%; prevalence 6.2-9.5%), and plantar fasciitis (incidence rate 4.5-10.0%; prevalence rate 5.2-17.5%).

For RRMIs sustained during ultramarathon races, the most frequent reports were for achilles tendinopathy (prevalence rate 2.0-18.5%) and patellofemoral syndrome (prevalence rate 7.4-15.6%).

Hespanhol et al call for future studies to determine a consensus about the definition of RRMIs, as well as aim to identify the main RRMIs in different types of runners (eg, ultramarathoners, marathoners, elite, recreational, race runners, etc.)

The findings are published in Sports Medicine.

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