Skip to main content

Military Health System

Caring for Recruits' Injuries is Key to Success at Basic Training

Image of U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021. . U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Readiness Capabilities | Injury Prevention

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of articles about recruit and trainee training, and how the Military Health System supports the military services in maintaining optimal health as these young men and women go through basic training and recruit training and enter the military.

There are all sorts of reasons why a new recruit might wash out of their initial military training.

Some just decide that enlisting in the military wasn't for them, and they cannot adjust to military life.

Others are unable to meet the basic standards and requirements to become a service member.

But among the most common reasons that young people fail to complete recruit training successfully and on time is injury.

That's why today's recruit trainers and drill instructors take many precautious to avoid injuries that can leave new enlistees to languish for weeks in a rehabilitation unit or simply sent back home.

"Injury is extremely frustrating and can crush morale and motivation," said Army Capt. Lydia Blondin, assistant chief of physical therapy at the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

The most common injuries are overuse injuries of the lower extremities and include stress fractures and muscle strains, she said.

"Occasionally, we also see more acute injuries like fractures or ligament tears," she added.

These can result in delayed training due to prolonged bone healing times, which typically range from six to 12 weeks.

Still, despite the best mitigation efforts injuries do occur.

Medical experts say today's recruits are at higher risk of injury because they live a more sedentary lifestyle than prior generations. Some of them struggle to adjust to the rigors of recruit training.

That's why it's more important than ever to encourage recruits to get in shape before shipping out. And they need access to top-notch medical care if they get injured to ensure their entire military career doesn't get derailed at its earliest phase.

The physical therapy, medical, and Fitness Training Unit staff at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, serve approximately 80,000 Army trainees annually, providing on-site primary care and evaluation services at the Consolidated Troop Medical Clinic.
The physical therapy, medical, and Fitness Training Unit staff at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, serve approximately 80,000 Army trainees annually, providing on-site primary care and evaluation services at the Consolidated Troop Medical Clinic. (Photo: Lori Newman, U.S. Army)

Responding to Injuries

Once injuries happen, the health care team at each training facility is there to help. At Fort Leonard Wood, the staff at the Richard G. Wilson Troop Medical Clinic offers primary care as well as physical therapy.

The installation has a fitness training holding unit for injured soldiers. That provides access to the Warrior Training and Rehabilitation Program, which helps injured soldiers rehabilitate and recover, said Army Maj. Jon-Marc Thibodeau, a clinical coordinator and chief of the medical readiness service line at Fort Leonard Wood.

"The soldier can continue healing while staying fit and healthy until they are ready to return back to training," explained Blondin.

For their part, medical providers can schedule individual briefs with a company or battalion to review injury prevention, discuss running form, or any other topic, Blondin explained. Physical therapists provide injured soldiers with crutches, braces, medication, manual therapy, exercises, stretches, dry needling, joint mobilization, or blood-flow restriction, among other treatments.

When necessary, orthopedic doctors may need to get involved for more significant injuries to assess the need for surgery.

Additionally, the trainees have access to behavioral health resources to address the psychological or emotional aspects of injuries.

"Behavioral health therapists or the chaplain are great resources to help these trainees figure out how to mentally cope with the stress and frustration of injury in the training environment."

Rest is Also Good

Advanced technologies help reduce and treat injuries from military training. But sometimes, the best treatment for training injuries can be as simple as rest, said Blondin.

If a trainee undergoes surgery or suffers significant injury, they may be granted convalescent leave and be allowed to return home temporarily. But this is an option military leaders prefer to avoid, as it takes the recruit out of the basic training environment.

"During convalescent leave, they don't have access to rehab. There's less of a safety control, and unfortunately, sometimes soldiers will get into trouble or lose their motivation to come back," said Blondin.

"Our first goal is to stay in training when safe and feasible," said Blondin. "Sometimes this can mean just taking it easy and modifying training for a week or two while things calm down."

Getting Back Into It

Following an injury, recruits gradually return to exercise. Close monitoring of their gait when performing exercises is key to ensuring trainees are ready to resume full training, said Thibodeau. Limping, for example, is an indication of injury and reveals it's not yet time to increase their running, walking, or rucking time.

"Going from zero to 100 is a recipe for re-injury," added Blondin. "Re-injury is tough in training, not only physically, but mentally. It can affect the ability to remain in the Army depending on the type and severity of the injury, and where they are in training."

Editor's note: Military services refer to entry-level service members as either 'recruit' or 'trainee'. Entry-level training also uses various names – 'basic training', 'recruit training' and 'boot camp' being the most common. For this article, theses terms are used interchangeably.

You also may be interested in...

Military Communities Can Be Fit in the New Year with Tips and Resources from Exchange Online Hub

Article Around MHS
1/13/2023
Fitness infographic

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is making sure military communities have health and fitness resources at their fingertips all year with the online BE FIT 360 Hub.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Army Medical Logistics Command Focuses on Medical Readiness of National Guard Reserve Units

Article Around MHS
1/11/2023
Military personnel at workshop

U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command leaders meet to tackle the challenges of ordering medical equipment and supplies. Find out about the strategies behind "Medical Logistics in Campaigning" that will poise Army medical personnel to transition quickly from peacetime at home station to an active operational environment.

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities | Medical Logistics

How Blue Angels and Thunderbirds Keep Flying 300 Days a Year

Article
12/16/2022
U.S. Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Travis Grindstaff at Nellis Aviation National air show

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds high-performance demonstration teams rely on their flight surgeons to sustain their readiness for more than 300 shows a year.

Recommended Content:

Civil Support | Health Readiness Support | Physical Fitness

Aviation Soldiers Volunteer to Lead Functional Fitness

Article Around MHS
12/12/2022
Military personnel training at a CrossFit gym

It's not uncommon to find soldiers continuously performing their own workout routines while deployed. The U.S. Army's new Army Combat Fitness Test continues to serve as the fitness requirement for all components, and soldiers stationed overseas are doing everything they can to keep physical fitness standards in check across their formations.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Two Public Health Command Europe Soldiers Receive Highly Sought-After Expert Medical Field Badge

Article Around MHS
11/30/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Hardin taking the M4 proficiency test

One officer and one enlisted soldier assigned to Public Health Command Europe earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge on their first try during a grueling three-week testing event conducted by the 173rd Infantry Brigade at Caserma Del Din.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

How the U.S. Military Acclimates Units to High-Altitude Operations

Article
11/28/2022
Service members on a mountain

The Military Health System takes measures to prevent and mitigate altitude sickness in service members operating at high altitudes. For best results, it’s key to acclimate units gradually and progressively.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Medical Center of Excellence Publishes Its Medical Company Doctrine Publication

Article Around MHS
11/20/2022
Infographic for Army Techniques Publication 4-02.6

As the U.S. Army’s culture shifts from counterinsurgency or limited contingency operations to large-scale combat operations, medical forces must optimize Army Health System support for maximum effectiveness.

Recommended Content:

Readiness Capabilities

BACH Physical Therapists talk Injury Prevention

Video
11/17/2022
BACH Physical Therapists talk Injury Prevention

Physical therapists with Blanchfield Army Community Hospital talk about the importance of injury prevention.

Recommended Content:

Injury Prevention and Occupational Health | Injury Prevention

Lifestyle Changes Could Add 10-15 Years to Your Life

Article
11/8/2022
A female Navy physical therapist works with a senior citizen lying on a table holding a ball.

You're never too old to start being more physically active and eating healthier, which can add years to your life.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Total Force Fitness

Exoskeleton to Enhance Safety, Retention for Aerial Porters, Others

Article Around MHS
10/26/2022
Military personnel pushes exoskeleton robotic fitness machine

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Center for Rapid Innovation, or CRI, held an event Oct. 6 with the U.S. Air Force Reserve Commander’s 445th Airlift Wing for a robotics team to demonstrate the latest Forge System, a pneumatically powered exoskeleton that augments leg strength to reduce fatigue, increase endurance, and offset weight.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Research & Innovation

Injury Prevention Month C

Infographic
10/25/2022
Injury Prevention Month C

Vision and hearing are senses that can be vital to mission success. Keep your eyes and ears safe by following these injury prevention tips. www.health.mil/InjuryPrevention #InjuryPreventionMonth

Recommended Content:

December | Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention Month A

Infographic
10/25/2022
Injury Prevention Month A

Vision and hearing are senses that can be vital to mission success. Keep your eyes and ears safe by following these injury prevention tips. www.health.mil/InjuryPrevention #InjuryPreventionMonth

Recommended Content:

December | Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention Month B

Infographic
10/25/2022
Injury Prevention Month B

Vision and hearing are senses that can be vital to mission success. Keep your eyes and ears safe by following these injury prevention tips. www.health.mil/InjuryPrevention #InjuryPreventionMonth

Recommended Content:

December | Injury Prevention

Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

Article Around MHS
10/24/2022
Tactical Medical Augmentation Team Increases Combat Medical Capability

To find a solution to an identified gap in medical care provided in combat situations, the U.S. Air Force 920th Rescue Wing’s Aeromedical Staging Squadron developed the Tactical Medical Augmentation Team, an embedded medical team that will bring a new level of patient care directly to the battlefield.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

Out for a Bike Ride? Remember These Safety Tips

Article
10/11/2022
A safety officer overlooks bike riders on a street

Bike riding is a popular form of transportation, physical activity, and fun, but doing it safely is key.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Summer Safety | Winter Safety
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 11
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 31, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery