Injury and illness in short-course triathletes: a systematic review

Sara A Guevara, Melissa L Crunkhorn, Michael Drew, Gordon Waddington, Julien D Périard, Naroa Etxebarria, Liam A Toohey, Paula Charlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Determining the incidence and prevalence of injury and illness in short-course triathletes would improve understanding of their etiologies and therefore assist in the development and implementation of prevention strategies. This study synthesizes the existing evidence on the incidence and/or prevalence of injury and illness and summarizes reported injury or illness etiology and risk factors affecting short-course triathletes.

METHOD: This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Studies reporting health problems (injury and illness) in triathletes (all sexes, ages, and experience levels) training and/or competing in short-course distances were included. Six electronic databases (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, Embase, APA PsychINFO, Web of Science Core Collection, and SPORTDiscus) were searched. Risk of bias was independently assessed by 2 reviewers using the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale. Two authors independently completed data extraction.

RESULTS: The search yielded 7998 studies, with 42 studies eligible for inclusion. Twenty-three studies investigated injury, 24 studies investigated illnesses, and 4 studies investigated both injuries and illnesses. The injury incidence rate was 15.7-24.3 per 1000 athlete exposures, and the illness incidence rate was 1.8-13.1 per 1000 athlete days. Injury and illness prevalence ranged between 2%-15% and 6%-84% respectively. Most injuries reported occurred during running (45%-92%), and the most frequently reported illnesses affected the gastrointestinal (7%-70%), cardiovascular (14%-59%), and respiratory systems (5%-60%).

CONCLUSION: The most frequently reported health problems in short-course triathletes were: overuse, lower limb injuries associated with running; gastrointestinal illnesses and altered cardiac function, primarily attributable to environmental factors; and respiratory illness mostly caused by infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Injury and illness in short-course triathletes: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this