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12.01.2021 | Systematic Review Open Access

Sex-Specific Differences in Running Injuries: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression

Sports Medicine
Karsten Hollander, Anna Lina Rahlf, Jan Wilke, Christopher Edler, Simon Steib, Astrid Junge, Astrid Zech
Wichtige Hinweise

Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s40279-020-01412-7.



Running is a popular sport with high injury rates. Although risk factors have intensively been investigated, synthesized knowledge about the differences in injury rates of female and male runners is scarce.


To systematically investigate the differences in injury rates and characteristics between female and male runners.


Database searches (PubMed, Web of Science, PEDro, SPORTDiscus) were conducted according to PRISMA guidelines using the keywords “running AND injur*”. Prospective studies reporting running related injury rates for both sexes were included. A random-effects meta-analysis was used to pool the risk ratios (RR) for the occurrence of injuries in female vs. male runners. Potential moderators (effect modifiers) were analysed using meta-regression.


After removal of duplicates, 12,215 articles were screened. Thirty-eight studies were included and the OR of 31 could be pooled in the quantitative analysis. The overall injury rate was 20.8 (95% CI 19.9–21.7) injuries per 100 female runners and 20.4 (95% CI 19.7–21.1) injuries per 100 male runners. Meta-analysis revealed no differences between sexes for overall injuries reported per 100 runners (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.90–1.10, n = 24) and per hours or athlete exposure (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.69–1.27, n = 6). Female sex was associated with a more frequent occurrence of bone stress injury (RR (for males) 0.52, 95% CI 0.36–0.76, n = 5) while male runners had higher risk for Achilles tendinopathies (RR 1. 86, 95% CI 1.25–2.79, n = 2). Meta-regression showed an association between a higher injury risk and competition distances of 10 km and shorter in female runners (RR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00–1.69).


Differences between female and male runners in specific injury diagnoses should be considered in the development of individualised and sex-specific prevention and rehabilitation strategies to manage running-related injuries.

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