Extreme Fitness Training

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DoD Joint Combat Camera Center Reference Number -SPT-95-000922.

The military is the model many youth view as the epitome of strength and fitness.  The Army says, “Be all you can be,” and the Navy SEALS use extreme fitness to select their team members.  All branches of the military are focused on mission readiness of fully operational forces. 

Outdated physical fitness methodologies, the declining fitness of new recruits, and an attempt to reduce musculoskeletal injuries during training have necessitated research and a subsequent change in fitness training policy that includes dynamic stretches and warm-up in conjunction with low-impact cardiovascular and weight training. Training that has not changed is operational training that requires carrying of heavy loads while navigating in extreme environments.  This may cause long-term knee and back pathology.
 
Currently, the U.S. Army conducts field training for Navy personnel scheduled to deploy in a Joint Forces setting.  This training does not take into account the beginning level of fitness, daily physical requirements of the position, or the size and stature of the military member.
 
Proper body mechanics assessment to determine individualized physical fitness gear coupled with training in proper body alignment and form should be undertaken. A multidisciplinary team could proactively determine corrections needed prior to extreme fitness training. Low impact whole body training such as group swimming that involves all major muscle groups and improves cardiovascular status, strength, and endurance but with much less joint morbidity may be used in lieu of running.
 
If promoted, military training policy change for responsible fitness could decrease short and long-term injuries in the military and be an example for youth in the United States who are extreme athletes.
 
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8 Responses to “Extreme Fitness Training”

  1. shannonmccook Says:

    I was happy to see this topic on here, as I was recently commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and have started to ramp up my physical training regimen in anticipation of the physical demands of the military. I personally have always thought that running may be harmful to the joints of people with some body types, especially females with curvier figures. I would love to see military trials comparing the fitness levels of soldiers trained via low-impact, swimming-type exercise to the traditional “gold-standard” pavement training.

    During college and for two years after, I worked at the U.S. Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (http://www.usariem.army.mil/), where the researchers integrate cellular, tissue and human research programs to evaluate the effects of extreme environmental conditions, as well as nutrition, training regimens and garments on soldiers in the field. It seems to me that U.S.A.R.I.E.M. may be the ideal place to conduct such a study.

  2. thebumslost Says:

    I recently heard a military physician give a presentation on the high incidence of stress fractures in new military recruits. Stress fractures are very slow to heal and require almost complete immobilization of the injured limb. New recruits, so eager to make it through basic training, avoid reporting these injuries as they emerge, which means when they finally see a doctor, their stress fracture is severe and debilitating. I am very glad to hear that changes are being instituted to help avoid some of these problems.

  3. prm321 Says:

    As a ten year active duty member who left service two years ago (and who managed to see his APFT scores plummet over the course of a decade!), I agree that this is a topic and suggestion worth pursuing. While there is appeal to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach all 3 branches subscribe to, I’ve always felt that the varied skill sets and demands of disparate MOSs really call for very different training regimens, and this would include physicial fitness training.

  4. mrmelia Says:

    A contrary opinion:
    As a 20 year veteran, former Marine, and active duty physician I believe this issue is not as simple as injury prevention. The military is designed around assimilation and the immediate response to orders. Physical and mental conditioning is fundamental in the preparation of these individuals to endure discomfort, break through personal boundaries and place themselves in a position where they may ultimately lose their lives in the defense of our country. Leaders do not take this responsibility lightly and their number one priority is preparing for mission success and the safety of the men and women placed in harms way. This all begins from the first day of training with physical fitness and unit cohesion. Unit training and maintaining a minimal standard across all specialties is essential to this effort. It is senior enlisted and staff corps officers that routinely show up for joint training unprepared for the mission they are being paid to perform. In this respect they need to be held to the same standard all military service men and women are expected to maintain. Finding better and smarter ways to achieve mission success is everbodys goal.

  5. tias11 Says:

    Our military and veterans are one of our nation’s most prized possessions, so adapting a fitness regimen that decreases their injuries is a great notion. I agree with the previous comment that all staff and officers should be held to the same standard so that mission success can be achieved. Given the extreme situations that military personnel are subjected too, an individual’s fitness level should be high. However, achieving an appropriate fitness level should not be at the expense of the physiological deterioration. By implementing a fitness plan that takes into account a person’s body mechanics, military members will likely also have a better quality of life.

  6. jenniferward0505 Says:

    As a primary care doctor at a VA I can attest to the fact that joint and back pain are the most prevalent complaint of veterans. The ‘armor’ and weapons that OEF/OIF veterans were required to wear weighs 70-80 pounds. We had one man who had to have both hips replaced at 40 years old because of extreme joint damage. While it is important for our military to be ready to undertake action at a moments notice it would be better for them and the country as a whole to try to change the way things are done. There must be a way to achieve high levels of fitness without destroying the body. This is especially true of female veterans, who tend to be smaller.

  7. amtorrie Says:

    This topic is of significant importance. Physical training that was once thought acceptable 10 years ago is now shown to cause long and short-term damage to the body, particular at the joints. As research advances and our understanding of how the body moves it is important that the military stays up to date with their training. They are asking men and women to keep themselves at a level of fitness that professional athletes maintain. Professional athletes have numerous resources, ranging from high-tech research facilities to state of the art training amenities, to keep themselves in shape in order for them to play a game. Why wouldn’t the military provide the same resources, if not better, for the people who are not playing a game, but rather, putting their lives in danger almost everyday. The military should re-focus their goals of extreme physical fitness to extreme biomechanically correct physical fitness.

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