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Protecting Our Military, Part 3: Injury Trends In The Navy And How To Avoid Them

June 11, 2021
June 21, 2023
docked submarine at a pier

Injuries within the Military are generally seen as an unfortunate consequence of live combat situations. While serious injuries certainly do occur in battle environments, the majority of the injuries suffered by members of all branches of the military tend to occur in more everyday situations. The extreme physical training and fitness requirements of the military are the main cause of these injuries.

According to a 2012 report released by the U.S. Navy:

“Injuries are currently the leading health problem for the US Military, resulting in over 2.1 million medical encounters among more than 592,000 service members in 2011 (Medical Surveillance Monthly Report [MSMR], 2012). Injuries (both battle and non-battle-related) result in the largest number of aero-medical evacuations from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) (Harman 2005; Jones 2010). Jones, 2010, notes that historically, injuries have been a leading cause of deaths, disabilities, and medical encounters in the U.S. military. In addition to the morbidity, mortality and health care costs associated with injuries, a 2006 White Paper reported that injuries resulted in approximately 25,000,000 days of limited duty in 2005.”

Navy injuries, then, don’t only affect the health of the individual, but also result in enormous economic costs and a reduction in active-duty members during recuperation. Below, we explain a few of the most common injury trends among members of the U.S. Navy.

The 3 Most Common Injuries Among Navy Recruits And Members

Members of the U.S. Navy suffer several common injuries due to the nature of their work. Open wounds, musculoskeletal sprains and strains, contusions, superficial injuries, and burns are among the most frequent types of injuries.

Here are the 3 most common injury risks in the Navy:

1. Patellar Tendon Injury

One of the most frequent types of musculoskeletal injuries among Navy members is the patella tendon injury. The patellar tendon connects the quadriceps (muscles at the front of the thigh) to the tibia (shin bone). These muscles extend/straighten the knee. Most commonly, patellar tendon inflammation can occur from excessive jumping. It is clear, then, that the physical demands of training would put someone at risk of developing a patellar tendon inflammation. .

Patellar tendon injuries can be avoided by engaging in exercises to appropriately balance the strength of the leg muscles leg muscles that support the knees, doing proper warm-up activities and cool-down stretches.

2. Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains are by far the most common type of musculoskeletal injuries suffered by members of the U.S. Navy. The Navy report mentioned above goes on to state that “sprains and strains accounted for the majority of injuries with a rate of 512 per 1,000 injuries, followed by contusions/superficial injuries at 153 per 1,000 injuries, fractures at 109 per 1,000 injuries, and open wounds accounting for 72 per 1,000 injuries.”

3. Workplace Dangers of Submarine Crews

Lastly, it is important to mention that injury rates are markedly higher among Navy personnel who work long hours in the engine rooms and supply departments of submarines. Injury rates for these workers tend to be at least two times higher than those of crewmembers working in other departments. Thus, specific attention should be given to these crewmembers, and professionally designed training is essential to reduce the likelihood of injuries occurring.

Avoiding Injuries In The Navy

The Navy basic training requirements and the Navy boot camp physical requirements attempt to reduce the likelihood of some of these common injury problems. Military personnel who are in top physical shape will be less vulnerable to the musculoskeletal injuries and overuse injuries detailed above.

For other types of injuries resulting from exposure to dangerous machinery or other extreme workplace environments, a focused safety and wellness-awareness training program, especially for younger and less experienced crew members, as well as among those working in particular areas of submarines, can also help to drastically reduce the rate and severity of injuries.

Recruit The Professionals At Work-Fit

Work-Fit offers its leading onsite injury prevention and management program for all different types of workforce environments. Our trained and certified healthcare professionals have decades of experience applying the leading sports medicine techniques in a wide variety of workplace settings.

Our expertise in wellness management, injury prevention, ergonomics, and injury management is essential to the extreme physical requirements of military recruits and personnel.

Contact Work-Fit today to start building a comprehensive physical wellness plan to ensure your Navy recruits and personnel can withstand the extreme physical fitness requirements of basic training and defending our country.


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