Injury Incidence and Prevalence in Elite Short-Course Triathletes: A 4-year Prospective Study

Melissa Crunkhorn, Liam A Toohey, Paula Charlton, Michael K. Drew, Kate Watson, Naroa Etxebarria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To characterise the prevalence, incidence rate (IR) and burden of injuries in elite short-course triathletes over a 4-year training and competition period.

Methods Fifty elite Australian triathletes were prospectively monitored for injury during four consecutive seasons (2018–2021). Injuries requiring medical attention were prospectively recorded and further subcategorised according to time loss. The IR and burden (injury IR×mean injury severity) were calculated per 365 athlete days, with sex differences in IR compared using IR ratios (IRR) from negative binomial regression models.

Results Two hundred and sixty-six injuries were reported in 46 (92.0%) athletes, of which 67.3% resulted in time loss. The injury IR was 1.87 injuries per 365 athlete days (95% CI 1.70 to 2.80), and comparable between sexes (IRR 0.82, 95% CI 0.64 to 1.04, p=0.109). Most injuries (70.7%) were training related. The most frequently injured body sites were the ankle (15.8%), foot (12.4%) and lower leg (12.0%). Bone stress injuries (BSIs) were the most burdensome injury type with 31.38 days of time loss per 365 days (95% CI 24.42 to 38.34). Twenty athletes (40.0%) reported at least one bone stress injury (BSI) (range 0–3). The rate of BSIs in female athletes was three times greater compared with male athletes (IRR 2.99, 95% CI 1.26 to 7.07, p=0.013).

Conclusion Two-thirds of injuries reported in elite short-course triathletes resulted in time loss, with the majority occurring during training activities. Foot, ankle and other lower leg injuries had the highest incidence, with BSIs carrying the highest injury burden. The considerably higher rate of BSI observed in female athletes warrants consideration for future prevention strategies in female triathletes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23107327
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024


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