Back to Top Skip to main content

Reduce your risk of running and sports injuries

More than 80 percent of recruit injuries occur to lower body. (Image courtesy Army Public Health Center) More than 80 percent of recruit injuries occur to lower body. (Image courtesy Army Public Health Center)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

In the last year, more than half of all Soldiers were diagnosed with an injury. Those injured are usually treated through outpatient visits but may be severely limited in their ability to perform certain physical activities for weeks or months. In some cases, injuries even result in medical discharges from the Army.

Running is the number one cause of Soldier injuries

Two-thirds of Soldiers' injuries are musculoskeletal damage to a lower-extremity (i.e. the knees, ankles, lower legs and feet). Most are common cumulative conditions called overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur over several hours, weeks or months from repeated low intensity forces to muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. Common overuse injuries include knee pain syndrome and chondromalacia ("runner's knee"), Achilles tendinitis, low back pain and stress fractures. Overuse injuries are the most frequent "injury problem" within the Army, costing billions in medical care and lost duty time. These injuries result from the substantial load bearing (i.e. on-foot) physical training conducted by Soldiers. "Running is the primary activity that contributes to the injury problem among Army recruits and Soldiers," explains Tyson Grier, a kinesiologist in the Injury Prevention Division of the Army Public Health Center. "Other activities such as foot marching further add to the stress on the lower body, increasing injury risk."

So is running bad for you? The simple answer is "no." Running is a very effective way to improve aerobic fitness – and being aerobically fit has been proven to reduce one's risk of injury. For example, recent data show that Soldiers who have slow 2 mile run times (i.e., men who take more than 15 minutes and women who take more than 19 minutes) have a higher risk of injury. Even Soldiers who "look" fit and are within body fat standards have a higher injury risk if they run slow.

So, though scientific studies have determined excessive running can increase injury risk, the right amount of running is still an effective way to improve and maintain aerobic fitness and resilience against injury. The key is finding the right balance. To reduce your risk of overuse injury:

  • Mix up your training. Follow a training regimen that balances running with other aerobic exercises (swimming, biking, stationary elliptical or bike machines), strength training (resistance bands, plyometric or weight-training), speed and agility (e.g. shuttle runs), and balance work.
  • Avoid running on repeated days. Alternate with low impact exercises.
  • Use running shoes in good condition. Most people only need a comfortable, non-worn running shoe that fits. "As general guidance, replace running shoes every 300-500 miles or if any part of the sole starts to wear" recommends Grier. Evidence has not supported the value of "special" running shoes (control, arch, cushion or minimalist).
  • Take a load off your feet. Ruck marching should not be used as an alternative to running. Carrying a heavy load long distances contributes to lower extremity injury. Avoid long runs and distances marches on back-to-back days.
  • Pay attention to pain. Pain, especially in a joint (knees, ankles, hips) or bones (shins, feet) can mean you are increasing distance or frequency too quickly. If this is the case, the first step is to reduce running or consider an alternative exercise. If pain persists, seek medical evaluation.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

2019 TRICARE Winter Safety Kit

Infographic
1/22/2019
TRICARE Winter Safety Kit 2019

This infographic provides tips and information about staying safe and warm during a snow storm.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness | Preventive Health

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
6/19/2017
Did you know  … ? In 2016, essential hypertension accounted for 52,586 encounters for health care among 29,612 active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of all cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension is by far the most common specific condition diagnosed among active duty service members. Untreated hypertension increases the risks of subsequent ischemic heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and kidney failure. CHART: Healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016 Major condition: •	For all other cardiovascular the number of medical encounters was 70,781, Rank 29, number of individuals affected was 35,794 with a rank of 30. The number of bed days was 4,285 with a rank of 21. •	For essential hypertension the number of medical encounters was 52,586, rank 35, number of individuals affected was 29,612 with a rank of 35. The number of bed days was 151 with a rank of 86. •	For cerebrovascular disease the number of medical encounters was 7,772, rank 79, number of individuals affected was 1,708, with a rank of 96. The number of bed days was 2,107 with a rank of 32. •	For ischemic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 6,629, rank 83, number of individuals affected 2,399 with a rank of 87. The number of bed days was 1,140 with a rank of 42. •	For inflammatory the number of medical encounters was 2,221, rank 106, number of individuals affected 1,302 with a rank of 97. The number of bed days was 297 with a rank of 72. •	For rheumatic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 319, rank 125, number of individuals affected 261, with a rank of 121. The number of bed days was 2 with a rank of 133. Learn more about healthcare burdens attributable to various diseases and injuries by visiting Health.mil/MSMRArchives. #LoveYourHeart Infogaphic graphic features transparent graphic of a man’s heart illuminated within his chest.

This infographic documents healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases among active component, U.S. Armed Forces in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Heart Health

Back to School Health and Safety Checklist

Infographic
8/4/2016
Health and Safety Checklist for Back to School

This infographic provides a going back to school health and safety checklist.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations

The HPV Vaccine Saves Lives

Infographic
5/16/2016
The Defense Department recommends male and female military service members, ages 17-26 years, receive an HPV vaccine series to generate a robust immune response to the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4). This graphic highlights information the benefits of the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective among fully vaccinated individuals.   Cancer Prevention Facts •	HPV is the most common sexually  transmitted infection (STI) •	There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas •	Some HPV types give warts •	Some HPV types develop cancer  Effective Against STI Transmission •	The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from the virus •	The HPV vaccine provides nearly 100% protection from HPV types 6,11,16 and 18 •	HPV vaccine shows early signs of success in reducing HPV infections and related illnesses •	Protection is expected to be long-lasting  Safety Tips •	Getting your HPV vaccine and practicing safe sex such as wearing a condom may lower the risk of HPV •	Limiting the number of lifetime sex partners can also lower the risk of HPV •	When given the HPV vaccine, the body makes antibodies in response to the protection to clear it from the body  Get the Facts •	2,091 female service members aged 17-26 years received 1-3 HPV4 doses during 2006-2012, stratified by number of doses (1, 2, or 3).  Get the HPV Vaccine •	Only 22.5% of eligible service members initiated the series •	Of those, only 39.1% completed the full three-dose series as of June 2011.  Even though the 3 dose regiment provides nearly complete protection against HPV16 and HPV18, in the U.S., only 12% and 19% of female adolescents among commercial and Medicaid plans respectively complete the series.  Read HPV Facts from the CDC: https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/IMM_Teens_HPV_Facts.pdf  Read the STI issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report at Health.Mil/MSMR   Get the conversation started. Ask your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine today. Follow us on Twitter @AFHSBPAGE and use hashtag #VaccinesWork.

The Defense Department recommends male and female military service members, ages 17-26 years, receive an HPV vaccine series to generate a robust immune response to the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4).

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Immunizations | Men's Health | Human Papillomavirus | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Women's Health

Breast Cancer

Infographic
5/9/2016
infographic about the breast cancer and how to protect against it.

In the U.S., with the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer accounts for the greatest number of cancer diagnoses in women and the second most common cause of female cancer-related deaths. This infographic shows seven ways to protect yourself from breast cancer.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health

Be Heart Smart

Infographic
2/1/2016
Be Heart Smart Infographic

Be More Active, Avoid Tobacco, Choose Better Nutrition

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Preventive Health

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Infographic
1/11/2016
Infographic about Cervical Health Awareness month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Preventive Health

Preventive Health Tip 4

Infographic
8/24/2015
Preventive Health Tip #4: Healthy Dental Habits

Encourage your child to practice healthy dental habits

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Preventive Health Tip 3

Infographic
8/17/2015
Preventive Health Tip #3: Healthy Snacks on Hand

Avoid obesity--keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Preventive Health Tip 1

Infographic
8/1/2015
Preventive Health Tip for Back to School

Ensure your child has the recommended vaccinations and be aware of changes.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.