For most civilian businesses, the injury rate is relatively low. Even for employees who work in jobs that are considered high risk such as construction sites or warehouses, injuries appear few and far between when compared with members of the U.S. military, who suffer injuries at an alarming frequency due to the rigorous physical demands of their job tasks and training.
According to one recent analysis:
“The injury rate for the Army is 2,500 reported injuries for every 1,000 Soldiers. This means that every Soldier could potentially go to sick call at least twice a year for a musculoskeletal injury. Injuries that affect the low back, knee, ankle, and shoulders account for most of the visits.”
To put that statistic into perspective, professional athletes and sports competitors suffer an average of slightly more than 2,000 injuries per 10,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that military personnel are at least twelve times more likely to suffer some sort of injury than professional athletes.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can be used to mitigate the risk, frequency, and severity of injuries among members of the Army. This process begins by identifying the most common and frequent injury trends among personnel and recruits. In this second article of our five part series, we outline the most common injuries in Basic Training in the Army. We also explain how the Army basic training requirements can help recruits avoid injuries while in the call of duty.
The Most Common Injuries Suffered By Army Recruits And Soldiers
A recent article titled “Musculoskeletal Lower Limb Injury Risk in Army Populations” published in the Sports Medicine Open Journal states that:
“The most common type of military injuries reported are sprains, particularly ankle sprains. Other common injuries sustained in military populations are medial tibial stress syndrome patellofemoral syndrome, lower back pain, tendinitis, stress fractures, and iliotibial band syndrome.”
The types of injuries are generally classified as “overuse injuries” that occur due to extreme physical exertion. The article went on to find that overuse injuries were responsible for almost 80 percent of all injuries sustained by members of the U.S. Army during their physical training.
Another common long-term injury that affects U.S. Army personnel is hearing loss and tinnitus. These hearing impairments are caused by the repetitive and prolonged exposure to loud noises. This happens both during training and from live combat. For Army soldiers, hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by working in the engine room of a tank, and of course from constant exposure to the sound of firearms.
Osteoarthritis is another long-term issue that affects thousands of soldiers and Army vets. According to this article, about one out of every four military veterans suffers from some type of arthritis. Arthritis is thus one of the main causes of medical discharge from the Army. Arthritis develops due to the requirements of heavy lifting that occurs during basic training and throughout the years of military service without proper or adequate recovery. Combat risks are also associated with developing arthritis.
Reducing Injury Rates In The Army Starts With A Prevention Plan
Though the dangers of combat are a very real threat to the physical safety of all Army employees, there are things that can be done to minimize the risk of other types of injuries. The Army Basic Training requirements which we outlined in the first article of this series seeks to ensure that all members of the Army are in optimum physical fitness while employed.
Engaging in proper warm-up exercises before any physically vigorous exercise and cool-down exercises afterward are crucial for limiting the frequency of injuries. Cross-training and switching up an exercise regime is another strategy for reducing vulnerability. Repetition causes excess stress on the same muscles every day, thus increasing the risk of overuse injuries. Of course, adequate hydration, nutrition, rest, recovery, and a healthy mindset are also essential for reducing vulnerability to the most common types of injuries outlined above.
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