'Large numbers of runners think that training speed, racing speed, running surface, and body weight are closely related to the risk of injury'
There are many misconceptions about running injuries. For example, coaches and runners often believe that males have higher injury rates than females, but male and female runners actually have about the same injury rate per hour of training (males tend to train for more hours per week, accounting for the perception that they are more injury-prone). Large numbers of runners think that training speed, racing speed, running surface, and body weight are closely related to the risk of injury, but research suggests otherwise. For instance, if you're heavier than average, you're not more likely than a lightweight runner to be injured during a typical year of training. Likewise, if you carry out most of your training on concrete roadways, you're probably not hurt more often than the runner who pads along softly on forest trails. In addition, your foot-strike pattern - whether you prefer to land on the heel or forefoot while running - doesn't necessarily have a significant impact on your injury risk (American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 16(3), pp. 285-294, 1988).
Another common belief is that proper warm-ups, thorough cool-downs, and appropriate stretching exercises all help to reduce injury risk, but research again says no. In a recent study, 159 Dutch runners were taught how to warm up, cool down, and stretch effectively, while a second group of 167 similar runners received no 'injury-prevention' instruction at all. The warm-up and cool-down consisted of six minutes of very light running and three minutes of muscle-relaxing exercises, and the stretching, carried out twice a day for 10 minutes at a time, loosened up the runners' hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. However, over a four-month period, the injury rates were identical in the two groups, averaging about one injury per 200 hours of running, so the stretching, warm-ups, and cool-downs had no protective effect at all ('Prevention of Running Injuries by Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Stretching Exercises,' The American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 21(5), pp. 711-719, 1993).
On the other hand, experience should make you wiser about injury avoidance or should at least give you time to strengthen weak body parts, and one recent scientific study did uncover an inverse relationship between injury risk and the number of years involved in running. In this investigation, newcomers to the sport were significantly more likely to be injured than those who had been training for many years (American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 16(3), pp. 285-294, 1988).
~excerpts from www.sportsinjurybulletin.com
article by Owen Anderson