Marathon running is a challenging event requiring substantial amounts of endurance and strength training for optimal performance and injury prevention. The race distance of 26.2 miles requires high mileage training, often >75-100 miles per week at the elite level, placing the athlete at risk of a running related injury (Saragiotto et al. 2014). In addition to training volume, athletes with training errors (too much volume too quickly), muscle imbalances, and gait deviations place themselves at greater risk of future injury and lost performance.
A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (Carvalho et al. 2016) sought to document the frequency, severity, and location of running related injuries among elite marathoners. The athletes all met the following criteria: sub 2:35 and 3:00 marathon for men and women, respectively, as well as, enrollment in the “elite” racing category. The 199 enrolled athletes were asked to assess their prevalence of running injuries over the previous 12 months. Even at the elite level, 3 out of 4 runners reported a running related injury most commonly experienced in the leg (19%), knee (15%), and achilles (15%). Among the injured runners close to 40% described at least two different injuries over the last year.
Athletes preparing for an upcoming marathon are encouraged to work with a local Physical Therapist to reduce modifiable risk factors for running related injuries.