Chapter 13


Injuries are not an uncommon occurrence during intense physical training. It is, nonetheless, a primary responsibility of all leaders to minimize the risk of injury to soldiers. Safety is always a major concern.

Most injuries can be prevented by designing a well-balanced PT program that does not overstress any body parts, allows enough time for recovery, and includes a warm-up and cool-down. Using strengthening exercises and soft, level surfaces for stretching and running also helps prevent injuries. If, however, injuries do occur, they should be recognized and properly treated in a timely fashion. If a soldier suspects that he is injured, he should stop what he is doing, report the injury, and seek medical help.

Most injuries can be prevented by designing a well-balanced PT program.

Many common injuries are caused by overuse, that is, soldiers often exercise too much and too often and with too rapid an increase in the workload. Most overuse injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Following any required first aid, health-care personnel should evaluate the injured soldier.

Typical Injuries Associated with Physical Training

Common injuries associated with exercise are the following:

The most common running injuries occur in the feet, ankles, knees, and legs. Although they are hard to eliminate, much can be done to keep them to a minimum. Preventive measures include proper warm-up and cool-down along with stretching exercises. Failure to allow recovery between hard bouts of running can lead to overtraining and can also be a major cause of injuries. A well-conditioned soldier can run five to six times a week. However, to do this safely, he should do two things: gradually build up to running that frequently and vary the intensity of the running sessions to allow recovery between them.

Many running injuries can be prevented by wearing proper footwear. Soldiers should train in running shoes. These are available in a wide range of prices and styles. They should fit properly and have flexible, multi-layered soles with good arch and heel support. Shoes made with leather and nylon uppers are usually the most comfortable. See Appendix E for more information on running shoes.

Since injuries can also be caused by running on hard surfaces, soldiers should, if possible, avoid running on concrete. Soft, even surfaces are best for injury prevention. Whenever possible, soldiers should run on grass paths, dirt paths, or park trails. However, with adequate footwear and recovery periods, running on roads and other hard surfaces should pose no problem.

Common running injuries include the following:

Tibial stress fractures, knee injuries, low back problems, shinsplints, and blisters, which were mentioned earlier, are also injuries which commonly occur in runners.

Other Factors

Proper clothing can also help prevent injuries. Clothes used for physical activity should be comfortable and fit loosely. A T-shirt or sleeveless undershirt and gym shorts are best in warm weather. In cold weather, clothing may be layered according to personal preference. For example, soldiers can wear a BDU, sweat suit, jogging suit, or even Army-issued long underwear. In very cold weather, soldiers may need gloves or mittens and ear-protecting caps. Rubberized or plastic suits should never be worn during exercise. They cause excessive sweating which can lead to dehydration and a dangerous increase in body temperature.

Army Regulation 385-55 (paragraph B-12, C) prohibits the use of headphones or earphones while walking, jogging, skating, or bicycling on the roads and streets of military installations. However, they may be worn on tracks and running trails.

Road safety equipment is required on administrative-type walks, marches, or runs which cross highways, roads, or tank trails or which are conducted on traffic ways. If there is reduced visibility, control personnel must use added caution to ensure the safety of their soldiers.