Utilisation of CAM by runners in the UK: a retrospective survey among non-elite marathon runners

Sheena Harding, Gabrielle Swait, Ian P. Johnson, Christina Cunliffe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: There are over 30 million runners worldwide, with high levels of injury reported. However, there is little evidence regarding utilisation levels or perceived benefit of CAM, including chiropractic, among runners. This study investigated utilisation and perceived effectiveness of CAM in non-elite marathon runners in the UK, aiming to enhance understanding of healthcare and treatment preferences in this population. An additional aim was to generate preliminary data on modalities chosen to treat specific running injuries. Method: A retrospective, non-experimental survey was distributed to 100 non-elite runners participating in the 2007 Flora London Marathon. Results: Ninety-nine completed questionnaires were analysed (response rate = 99%). Forty-three per cent of participants sustained running-related injuries in the past year, predominantly to the knee/lower leg (48%) and back (21%). Thirty-seven per cent used CAM or non-CAM modalities alongside orthodox medical care. A further 37% used these without consulting their GP. CAM utilisation was 21%, with chiropractic (11%), massage (12%) and acupuncture (9%) being most utilised, particularly for back/low back pain, knee/ankle and lower limb soft tissue injuries. Most users recommended treatments received, and 84% would like to see CAM available on the NHS. The majority perceived CAM, including chiropractic, as beneficial and reasonable in cost. Results: Runners use CAM for treatment of specific running injuries, as well as injury prevention and enhancement of general well-being. Utilisation appears higher than reported levels for the general population and there is a high level of satisfaction with CAM. Further research is indicated to investigate clinical efficacy of CAM modalities for specific running-related injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Chiropractic
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Awareness
  • CAM
  • Chiropractic
  • Marathon
  • Runners
  • Survey


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