The associations between training load and baseline characteristics on musculoskeletal injury and pain in endurance sport populations: A systematic review



      To determine the associations between training load, baseline characteristics (e.g. age or previous injury) and rate of musculoskeletal injury and/or pain specifically within an Endurance Sporting Population (ESP).


      Prospectively registered systematic review.


      Eight electronic databases were searched by two independent reviewers. Studies were required to prospectively monitor both (i) training loads and (ii) musculoskeletal injury and/or pain for >3 months. Methodological quality and risk of bias were determined utilising the Critical Skills Appraisal Program (CASP). Reported effect sizes were categorised as small, medium or large.


      Twelve endurance sport studies were eligible (running, triathlon, rowing). Increased injury and/or pain risk was associated with: (i) high total training distances per week/month (medium effect size) (ii) training frequency <2 sessions/week (medium effect size) and (iii) both low weekly (<2 hours/week) and high monthly (large effect size) training durations. None of the studies reported internal training load data or acute:chronic workload ratios. Baseline characteristics found to increase the rate of injury and/or pain included: (i) a history of previous injury (medium effect size), (ii) age >45 years (small effect size), (iii) non-musculoskeletal comorbidities (large effect size), (iv) using older running shoes (small effect size) and (v) non-competitive behaviour.


      This review identifies a range of external training load factors and baseline characteristics associated with an increased rate of injury and/or pain within ESPs. There is an absence of research relating to internal training loads and acute:chronic workload ratios in relation to rate of injury and/or pain within ESPs.


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