Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Hips of Runners Before and After Their First Marathon Run: Effect of Training for and Completing a Marathon

  • Horga, Laura M.1
  • Henckel, Johann1
  • Fotiadou, Anastasia1
  • Di Laura, Anna1
  • Hirschmann, Anna C.2
  • Hart, Alister J.1
  • 1 Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, University College London and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, London, UK
  • 2 Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Published Article
Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Jul 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1177/23259671211010405
PMID: 34377710
PMCID: PMC8320584
PubMed Central
  • Article


Background: No studies have focused on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hips of marathoners, despite the popularity and injury risks of marathon running. Purpose: To understand the effect of preparing for and completing a marathon run (42 km) on runners’ hip joints by comparing MRI findings before and after their first marathon. Study Design: Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: A total of 28 healthy adults (14 males, 14 females; mean age, 32.4 years) were recruited after registering for their first marathon. They underwent 3-T MRI of both hips at 16 weeks before (time point 1) and 2 weeks after the marathon (time point 2). After the first MRI, 21 runners completed the standardized, 4 month--long training program and the marathon; 7 runners did not complete the training or the marathon. Specialist musculoskeletal radiologists reported and graded the hip joint structures using validated scoring systems. Participants completed the Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS) at both imaging time points. Results: At time point 1, MRI abnormalities of the hip joint were seen in 90% of participants and were located in at least 1 of these areas: labrum (29%), articular cartilage (7%), subchondral bone marrow (14%), tendons (17%), ligaments (14%), and muscles (31% had moderate muscle atrophy). At time point 2, only 2 of the 42 hips showed new findings: a small area of mild bone marrow edema appearance (nonweightbearing area of the hip and not attributable to running). There was no significant difference in HOOS between the 2 time points. Only 1 participant did not finish the training because of hip symptoms and thus did not run the marathon; however, symptoms resolved before the MRI at time point 2. Six other participants discontinued their training because of non–hip related issues: a knee injury, skin disease, a family bereavement, Achilles tendon injury, illness unrelated to training, and a foot injury unrelated to training. Conclusion: Runners who completed a 4-month beginner training program before their first marathon run, plus the race itself, showed no hip damage on 3-T MRI scans.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times