*Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. The article below is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.
Military training injuries affect readiness, disrupt operations and can lead to disability. They also hurt. Save yourself some pain by knowing what to expect. Being prepared and making smart decisions about your health and capabilities will help you minimize the possibility of injury during training.
Take care of the following before going out on your next training exercise:
- Physical and mental fitness. Get yourself in top physical and mental condition with a six-week cardiovascular, strength-training and flexibility regimen.
- Environment. Find out about weather conditions and terrain before you start training, so you'll be prepared for both.
- Warm-up. Take a short walk or jog; stretch your muscles after your warm-up.
- Hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during and after training. Drink slowly to prevent cramping and nausea, and drink sports drinks when possible to replace salts lost to sweating.
Use breaks in training wisely — rehydrate, and address gear concerns. Keeping your gear in good condition is almost as important as keeping yourself in good shape. Poorly maintained, ill-fitting and broken gear can make training more difficult and cause injury.
Learn to recognize the symptoms of some common overuse injuries before they become severe. Common injuries from overuse include:
- Achilles tendonitis. Inflammation and degeneration of the fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the calf muscles of the lower leg causes pain, tenderness, redness, joint swelling and creaking with up-and-down movement.
- Patellar-femoral syndrome or runner's knee. This occurs when the kneecap rubs against the end of the thighbone, causing swelling and pain.
- Plantar fasciitis. This condition causes pain in the sole of the foot from inflammation of the fibrous tissue.
- Stress fractures. Small cracks in the bones from repeated impacts, such as running, cause swelling at the site of the fracture, a dull ache, pressure-sensitivity and pain that increases with activity.
You can help prevent or avoid overuse injuries in the following ways:
- Warm up and stretch before training.
- Wear shoes that fit well and provide support. This helps prevent patellar-femoral syndrome and plantar fasciitis.
- Strengthen your calf muscles. Perform toe raises to prevent Achilles tendonitis.
- Avoid running on hard or uneven surfaces. This helps avoid plantar fasciitis, as does losing excess weight.
- Eat a healthy diet. Include calcium-rich foods.
- Start slowly. Gradually work your way to longer training times to avoid stress fractures.
- Protect your knees. If you have symptoms of patellar-femoral syndrome, avoid exercises that require you to be in a bent knee position for a long time.
Musculoskeletal injuries resulting from physical training are common. They include:
- Ankle sprains. Sprains occur when the elastic ligaments connecting the ankle bones become stretched or torn, typically when your foot rolls, twists or bends in an unnatural position.
- Knee and thigh injuries. These can include ligament, tendon or cartilage tears.
- Shin splints. These cause pain in the front and inside part of the lower legs. They can be caused by excessive exercise, flat feet, over-pronation (the foot rolls inward too much), improper stretching and warm-up, worn-out shoes or exercising on hard surfaces.
You can help prevent or avoid musculoskeletal injuries in the following ways:
- Warm up and stretch properly before training.
- Maintain good muscular strength and flexibility.
- Wear properly fitted shoes in good condition.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.