Understanding the first injury in athletics and its effect on dropout from sport: An online survey on 544 high-level youth and junior athletics (track and field) athletes

Pascal Edouard, Constance Mosser, Joris Chapon, Frédéric Depiesse, Debbie Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective To describe the first injury and to investigate whether it plays a role in altering athletics’ sustainable practice.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study using an exploratory survey on the first injury and its consequences on athletics practice. In 2021, we asked all high-level athletes licensed with the French Federation of Athletics (FFA) under 18 years, under 20 years and under 23 years categories between 2007 and 2021.

Results Out of 6560 emails sent by FFA, 544 athletes responded, and 93.6% (n=510) reported experiencing at least one injury during their career. The first injury occurred at a mean age of 17.5±3.3 years after 6.1±4.1 years of athletics practice. The main locations of the first injury were the posterior thigh (28.9%), the ankle (16.5%) and the knee (12.6%), and the principal reported injury types were muscle (37.7%), tendon (17.5%) and ligament (15.5%). More than a third of injured athletes (36.7%) reported experiencing ongoing symptoms or sequelae after their first injury, and about half (48.5%) experienced recurrences. About 20% had stopped athletics at the time of the survey, with injury problems the primary cause of athletes dropping out (46.2%), including the first injury (9.4%).

Conclusions Injuries played an important role in altering sustainable athletics practice, with injury accounting for about 50% of all reported dropouts and the first injury accounting for about 10% of all reported causes. Our results provide evidence to target the prevention of the first injury, which could be considered the origin of the ‘vicious circle’ of injuries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e001767
JournalBMJ open sport & exercise medicine
Volume10
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2024

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