Economic Cost of Running Injuries

Mend Physical Therapy has previously written on the prevention and treatment of running injuries  in multiple prior blog posts.    Running is very common form of exercise in the United States and here Boulder County. The vast majority of runners will sustain an injury in the upcoming year which will prevent them from training or competing at their intended levels.  Our prior posts have described the risk factors for these injuries and our ability to prevent them.  In particular, having a twice a week running specific strengthening program and a Physical Therapy assessment of your running gait may create the biggest impact and keep you on the trails.  

Once an injury is sustained an athlete faces an impact on both his or her training and possibly their finances.  These may be in the form of changes in footwear, running coaches, gait analysis, physical therapy visits, diagnostic tests, etc.  A recent article in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport documented the economic impact of running related injuries among athletes training for an upcoming race event (Junior, L. 2015).

Junior et al. followed 53 runners training for an upcoming 5K, 10K, or 10 mile race.  All runners participated in run training programs put on by the upcoming race events.  These programs consisted of written materials on race preparation and weekly supervised group run training sessions based on experience and ability levels.  The supervised program consisted of a warm up, cool down, and 60 minutes of run training over 5-10K focused on speed development.  

Over half, 32 out of 59 runners, sustained a running related injury during the training period with 85% of these injuries being classified as overuse in nature.  Interestingly, the authors noted a higher percentage of running injuries in the experienced group compared to those with <1 year of running experience.  Of the running related injuries, 73% caused athletes to miss upcoming training sessions and 34% lead athletes to seek medical attention.  These individuals sought medical attention from their primary care MD or a medical specialist, with 38 receiving Physical Therapy care.  

The economic impact of these injuries among these 53 runners was significant.  $6200 was spent on these 32 athletes, 66% of this cost (direct cost) went towards direct health care consultations.  Each injury was broken down into a direct cost and an indirect cost due to lost time from work.  The indirect costs from loss of work time were twice that of those directly related to health care consultations.  Due to the high financial impact of running injuries, the authors recommend runners be given injury prevention programs to prevent health care expenses and time off of work due to injury.  

To learn more about how you can prevent injuries contact the experts at Mend Physical Therapy