Low fitness, low body mass and prior injury predict injury risk during military recruit training: a prospective cohort study in the British Army

Mark Robinson, Andrew Siddall, James Bilzon, Dylan Thompson, Julie Greeves, Rachel Izard, Keith Stokes

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Abstract

Background Injuries sustained by military recruits during initial training impede training progression and military readiness while increasing financial costs. This study investigated training-related injuries and injury risk factors among British Army infantry recruits.

Methods Recruits starting infantry training at the British Army Infantry Training Centre between September 2008 and March 2010 were eligible to take part. Information regarding lifestyle behaviours and injury history was collected using the Military Pre-training Questionnaire. Sociodemographic, anthropometric, physical fitness and injury (lower limb and lower back) data were obtained from Army databases. Univariable and multivariable Cox regression models were used to explore the association between time to first training injury and potential risk factors.

Results 58% (95% CI 55% to 60%) of 1810 recruits sustained at least 1 injury during training. Overuse injuries were more common than traumatic injuries (65% and 35%, respectively). The lower leg accounted for 81% of all injuries, and non-specific soft tissue damage was the leading diagnosis (55% of all injuries). Injuries resulted in 122 (118 to 126) training days lost per 1000 person-days. Slower 2.4 km run time, low body mass, past injury and shin pain were independently associated with higher risk of any injury.

Conclusions There was a high incidence of overuse injuries in British Army recruits undertaking infantry training. Recruits with lower pretraining fitness levels, low body mass and past injuries were at higher risk. Faster 2.4 km run time performance and minimal body mass standards should be considered for physical entry criteria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Volume2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Keywords

  • military training
  • injury risk
  • physical fitness

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