Running-related injuries are common and may pose a barrier to maintaining high levels of overall physical activity.
The aim of this study was to determine whether recreational runners remain physically active while experiencing running-related pain or running-related injury.
Recreational runners (n = 49) participated in a year-long observational cohort study. Subjects were issued a commercial activity monitor to measure daily physical activity level, quantified by the total minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Subjects also completed a weekly survey inquiring about running-related pain and any modifications made to planned running sessions. A week was classified as an “injured week” if a runner reported a reduction or cancellation of at least three planned training sessions, otherwise, it was categorized as an “uninjured week.” Separately, pain level was assessed for each week using a 0 to 10 scale. Survey responses were used to longitudinally track pain levels and injury status for each runner. Mixed-effect linear models were used to quantify whether sustaining an injury or reporting running-related pain during a given week were associated with changes in MVPA levels for that week.
Compared with uninjured weeks, runners engaged in 14.1 fewer minutes of MVPA per day (95% confidence interval, −22.5 to −6.0) during weeks in which they reported a running-related injury. Lost MVPA during injured weeks was primarily replaced by sedentary activity. There was no significant association between running-related pain and MVPA.
Injured runners do not replace lost running time with other forms of MVPA. Running-related injury and running-related pain should not be conflated; although reporting injury is associated with a reduction in physical activity in recreational runners, high pain levels are not.