LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va — Physical fitness is a vital part of being in the military, and there are plenty of ways to stay fit. Whether it is soccer, running, bicycling or rock climbing, these activities can cause various injuries if Airmen are not physically prepared.
“Last summer, there were more than 350 injuries reported as a result of sporting activities,” said Chief Master Sgt. Yance Childs, Headquarters Air Combat Command Ground Safety chief. “There were more than 1,800 lost work days that resulted in more than $1 million in medical costs.”
Master Sgt. Mitchell Scott, 633rd Force Support Squadron Fitness Assessment Cell, encourages Airmen to sufficiently hydrate, and warm and stretch muscles prior to engaging in physical fitness in order to prevent injuries.
“Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate … before, during and after a workout,” Scott said. “Warm-ups, which consist of light jogging, calisthenics or walking, should be conducted for five to 10 minutes at the beginning of an exercise session.”
Another key component to injury prevention is stretching, which loosens muscles and joints to avoid injury, discomfort and muscle soreness, Scott said.
“It does not guarantee discomfort, but will aid in minimizing injuries and discomfort by slowly easing the body into an exercise routine,” he said.
Injury prevention should be at the forefront in each stage of exercise.
Before exercising, in addition to hydrating and warming the muscles, individuals should also limit food one to 2 hours prior, research weather conditions, and use safety gear if necessary.
During exercise, it is important to continue hydrating and listen to the body’s warning symptoms. Any type of pain, sharp or dull, should be noted. Immediately stop and have any problem assessed by a primary-care manager before continuing action.
At the end of the exercise, use a cool-down method like walking and light stretching to slow down the heart rate.
“As we build a fit and resilient force of warriors, we need everyone in the game,” Childs said.