Author: Jacob Moore
Whatever you call it – training, working out, exercise, PT – some level of intense physical activity at regular intervals is part and parcel of being in the military.
This could include anything from rucking several pounds of combat gear, running, or playing sports to lifting weights.
One of the keys to a service member's ability to stay physically fit and avoid undue long-term damage to their body is knowing the difference between “normal" aches and pains and what may be signs of something more serious.
“There are several indicators that your body will give you when determining whether you are experiencing normal discomfort or 'good' pain, in a way, versus pain that needs to be addressed," said Air Force Capt. Kameryn Corcoran, a physical therapist at David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.
Some of the key indicators, she said, are:
- Pain during activity
- Duration, or pain that continues after ending an activity
- Pain that limits the duration or intensity of your activities
“These are the things you want to look for when thinking about whether to push through or stop," said Corcoran.
Running injuries, specifically, are usually recurrent or nagging aches or pains that start and progress without obvious injury, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Stoll, a physical therapist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida.
Stoll said these injuries normally fall into two categories: training errors or overuse, and lack of preparation.
“The first category can result in aches, pains, and declining performance and can be signs that you're overloading and need a couple days off to recover," he said. “The latter can cause plantar fasciitis, hamstring tightness, patellofemoral pain syndrome, 'runner's knee' or IT (iliotibial) band syndrome. Others may develop hip or back pain with running due to stiffness of the leg muscles or trunk."