Balancing Health Goals and Preventing Injuries
Soldiers need to optimize their performance and enhance unit training with individual training but to also balance against the risks of overuse injuries. Soldiers, as athletes, should aim for:
- 300 minutes of a mix of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week
- 3 strength building sessions each week (30 to 60 minutes a session, alternating recovery days)
- Mix up the types and intensity of exercises, include agility and balance drills
- Include weekly rest (recovery) days and avoid back-to-back days of activities that require strenuous use of the same muscle groups ( like a heavy leg work out session the day before a long ruck march)
The majority of Soldiers may be achieving the necessary time and intensity recommended, the key to fitness is balancing the physical training with the inherent risk of overtraining and injury. Key Army training tips, include:
- Always warm up, but don't do "static stretches" (reach and hold) - instead do dynamic warm-ups tailored to a specific activity, moving through the range of motion for body area used to increase temperature and blood flow in tissues (examples include jump roping, jogging in place, swinging arms).
- Gradually increase the intensity and duration of any new workout, a rule of thumb is to increase (combination of intensity and/or duration) by 10% every couple weeks or when you no longer challenged.
- Vary your workouts to include a combination of strength, endurance, balance, agility, and coordination training.
- If you are feeling pain, especially if it seems to be a joint or bone as opposed to muscle soreness, see your medical provider, physical therapist or fitness trainer right away.
Data consistently shows that each year over 50% of all Soldiers develop a new injury, and that over two thirds of these injuries are cumulative micro traumatic injuries to the musculoskeletal tissues, which are also known as overuse injuries.
Does my unit or installation have a bigger overuse injury problem than other Army sites?
Army units interested in finding out how their installation and unit-specific injury data stacks up compared to other sites should review Army Soldier Injury Reports and the annual Health of the Force report .
How can injuries be reduced?
The APHC also provides many other more detailed injury prevention materials, including links to hundreds of technical reports and scientific articles.
Know your own injury risk
Your risk of an overuse injuries depends on many factors, include the type of activities, the frequency, the duration, and a host of activity - and PERSON - specific factors.
Are you injury prone yourself? Understanding your own limits means understanding what is mean my injuries. Many injuries mean you are at greater risk for future injuries, even of a different type or location – for example, a sprained ankle could lead to a future overuse knee injuries?
Running injuries? Running is an inevitable part of Army Soldier training.
Though running remains a critical aspect of training and part of the Army fitness test, since 2012 the Army has reduced the amount of running that its physical training doctrine used to promote – the goal was to be "less running centric" and more holistically include exercises to also build strength, speed, power, flexibility, agility, balance,
While there is not a one-size-fits all set of running rules some injury prevention guidance tips include:
- 10 Laws of Injury Prevention - Summary of why the best distance depends on the person – it also provides some great alternative exercises for the injured (and exercises to avoid).
- Shoes. Wear comfortable shoes that are not worn and provide basic support, the actual type of shoe (arch support level, minimalist shoes) does not appear to matter as long as the show fits and is not excessively worn Replace your shoes when they become worn.
- Rest. Give your muscles, bones, and joints recovery days.
- Cross training is important. Try not to run more than 30 minutes, 3 days per week unless you are an experienced runner. Change your 'running' by swapping some distance runs to sprint and agility sets.
- For more information visit the APHC website for Sports and PhysicalTraining Injuries.