Background: Increased injury rates have been associated with physical activity (PA). The differences in musculoskeletal injury (MSI) characteristics resulting from PA, versus those unrelated to PA, are unknown. We describe the pattern of PA and non-PA MSI incurred by community-dwelling women. Methods: Data were extracted from the Women's Injury Study, a web-based observational study that tracked weekly PA behaviors and self-reported MSI of 909 community-dwelling women ages 20-83 years. The primary outcome was self-reported MSI that interrupted daily activities ≥2 days and/or required treatment from a health care provider. Follow-up telephone reporting of MSIs allowed further description of injuries. Mixed effects logistic regression was used to identify injury sites associated with PA, controlling for age, body mass index, previous injury, and use of alcohol. Results: Incidence of PA and non-PA MSIs were comparable; some differences in injury characteristics were evident across 83,241 person-weeks of reporting. Non-PA MSIs were more likely to come on "suddenly" (54% vs. 8%) and commonly involved head/jaw/neck injuries. Reported PA-related MSIs were less likely to require health care provider treatment (60% vs. 80%) and resulted in less missed days of work/school (11%) versus non-PA MSIs (17%). Compared to non-PA related injuries, PA-related injuries were more likely to involve the lower (odds ratio [OR]=3.10, p=0.002) or upper limbs (OR=2.54, p=0.01) and less likely to involve the head/jaw/neck (OR=0.21, p=0.002). Conclusion: There are some differences in mechanisms of injury, the distribution of injuries by anatomical location, and the treatment of injuries depending on aerobic activity participation, although absolute rates of MSI were comparable.
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