Treatment and prevention of running injuries: A content analysis of 2015 running magazines

  • Hayley Russell Health and Exercise Science, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Emily Houghton Fort Lewis College
  • Julia Dutove Minnesota State University


Runners often attribute injuries to factors for which there is little or no scientific support (Saragiotto et al., 2014). This may arise from seeking information about running-related injuries (RRI) from sources, such as running magazines, rather than from medical professionals (Russell & Wiese-Bjornstal, 2015). The purpose of this study was to explore what popular running magazines tend to present as most common causes of, prevention and treatment strategies for, RRI. A content analysis was conducted of 2015 running magazines with the highest subscription rates that targeted recreational runners; namely, Running Times, Runner's World, and Women's Running. Most frequently, these magazines focused on general injuries, IT band injuries, stress fractures, and knee injuries. The most commonly cited causes of RRI were muscular imbalances, improper training, and insufficient stretching; most commonly cited prevention strategies were foam rolling, strength training, and stretching; most commonly cited treatment strategies were ice, rest, strength and cross training, medical intervention. Consistent with previous research on runners' understanding of injury, these magazines presented causes, prevention and treatment strategies that often lack scientific support (Saragiotto et al., 2014). Finch's (2006) injury prevention framework illustrates the potential problems with runners having inaccurate beliefs about injuries. Specifically, if runners have inaccurate beliefs about RRI, they are likely to engage in non-evidence-based behaviors (e.g., stretching, ice) potentially at the expense of evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies (e.g., rest).