Workout Preparation and Injury Prevention

LAST UPDATED: April 13, 2021
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The Top Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Recommendations guide can be downloaded and print copies ordered from the Army Public Health Center Health Information Products e-catalogExternal Link

Preventing injuries

To keep the unit ready, Soldiers need to be injury-free. Appropriate warm-up and exercise preparation and following good injury prevention practices are as important in the Army as they are to a professional sports team. All effective workouts begin with an appropriate warm-up. Dynamic warm-ups use controlled movements to take the body through a large range of motion—lengthening and warming tissues and preparing the body for activity. Most injuries in PRT are due to inappropriate training and inadequate fitness—train safe and stay in the fight.

What leaders can do to reduce Soldier injuries

Know that this is an important problem!

  • Army research shows musculoskeletal injury (injuries to muscles, bones, and tendons) was the number one leading cause of medical evacuations from a combat theater during 2002–2010 and the second leading cause of hospitalizations, resulting in 10 million limited duty days per year.
  • The average Soldier in the active component spends about 16% of his or her time on a limited duty profile. These injuries are the #1 cause of days on profile.
  • Most injuries like this are due to poor training practices, over training or due to inadequate fitness, and they can be prevented.

Train smart

  • Select NCOs for the Master Fitness Trainer Course who model healthy behavior and can teach others.
  • When planning the intensity and duration of PT, consider factors such as the training cycle, block leave, and new Soldiers.
  • Collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure Soldiers have profiles that identify alternatives to prohibited activities—eProfile has standardized templates that can help provide “positive, can-do profiles” for your Soldiers.
  • Following the reconditioning program in FM 7-22 External Link is a great way to get Soldiers back from injury and keep them injury-free. Soldiers returning from a profile need to follow the reconditioning program in FM 7-22External Link

Implement warm-up and injury prevention practices:

  • The Physical Readiness Training (PRT) preparation drills are an excellent way to warm up. You can read in FM 7-22 External Link (Army PRT) how preparation drills increase body temperature and heart rate, increase pliability of joints and muscles, and increase responsiveness of nerves and muscles.
  • A focused and tailored warm-up can increase your performance and decrease the risk of injury. Determine the warm-up based on the workout or mission: Use a few ‘warm up sets’ of lower weight before you do heavy strength training, do light jogging before a run, etc.
  • Consider total daily training requirements in your planning. For example, don’t schedule lower body weight training, endurance running and a road march on the same day or on two consecutive days.
  • A focused training program may help decrease injury risk for Soldiers with low fitness or with previous injuries—involve your Master Fitness Trainer and/or Physical Therapist!
  • Stretching exercises are good for improving mobility but are best used after your workout when muscles are warmed up.
  • Stretching before activity is okay but it can’t replace a dynamic warm-up! Stretching before exercise has not been show to reduce injuries.
  • Wear a mouth guard for high-risk activities like combatives and contact sports.
  • Wear a semi-rigid ankle brace for high risk activities such as basketball or soccer if you have had a previous ankle injury.
  • To minimize injury risks, gradually increase intensity, duration, frequency, and variety of training.
  • Injured Soldiers returning to unit PRT should follow the reconditioning program in FM 7-22External Link
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