Study finds increase in running-related injuries among children

The annual number of running-related injuries has increased 34% during a 14-year period, according to a study published in the Feb. 2011 issue of Clinical Pediatrics.

Investigators examined running-related injuries — primarily sprains and strains to the lower extremities — among children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 years, finding an estimated 225,344 cases treated in emergency departments throughout the United States from 1994 to 2007. The data was collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

One-third of the injuries involved a fall, the investigators noted, and more than 50% of running-related injuries occurred at school. The injuries varied by age, however, with children aged 6 to 14 years being more likely to suffer injury as the result of a fall or while running at school. Adolescents 15 to 18 years of age were more likely to sustain injuries while running in the street or at a sports and recreation facility.

“Encouraging children and adolescents to run for exercise is a great way to ensure that they remain physically active,” investigator Lara McKenzie, PhD, stated in a press release. “However, the findings from our study show that formal, evidence-based and age-specific guidelines are needed for pediatric runners so that parents, coaches and physical education teachers can teach children the proper way to run in order to reduce the risk of injury.”

The authors noted that this is the first study to examine a nationally representative sample of running-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments, but added that further research is necessary to thoroughly understand pediatric running-related injuries and the role injury prevention can play in reducing them.


Mehl AJ, et al. Running-related injuries in school-age children and adolescents treated in emergency departments from 1994 through 2007. Clin Pediatr. 50(2);126-132. doi: 10.1177/0009922810384719.

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