Part of being a soldier in the US Army requires a certain level of physical fitness. This is why we conduct daily physical training (PT). Your physical state is crucial, and should you become injured, your career could also become injured. Having a physical profile from a doctor that limits your mobility and physical activity is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can slow things down. If you are unable to take a physical fitness test or participate in leading soldiers during PT then it is hard to progress until you recover from your injury. A profile is like a black hole that just sucks you in, and it very hard to escape. Once you are on profile, then you have trouble recovering, and it can take years sometimes to recover fully. The best thing you can do is learn to prevent injury before it becomes a problem and avoid a profile from the beginning.
There are three major mistakes, that soldiers make, that can lead to injury or PT test failure.
1. Not stretching enough.
Stretching is very important in helping your body avoid injury. Stretching should be done immediately after your cool down and should be very thorough. Each stretch should be held for about 20 -30 seconds. A quick 5 – 10-second stretch does not get the job done. If you just ran 8 miles and you have not been running very often before, then you may need additional stretching. Try stretching right after working out, again around lunchtime, and then before you lay down to go to sleep at night. You may not notice anything special the next day when you stretch, but that is the point. If you do not stretch, then you may wake up extremely sore and tight in your muscles.
2. Drink water
I believe this one is neglected the most. Your body needs water, whether you exercise or not. Think of it as fuel, the harder your body works, the more it uses up, and you need to keep adding water. Have you ever gone for a run in the morning and you get those horrible cramps in your abdomen area? That is most likely caused by a lack of water. Everyone has heard that you should drink 8 cups of water a day. Carbonated drinks do not count as water, in fact, they count against your 8 cups. For every one cup of carbonated drink, you need one cup of water on top of your 8 cups. So, if you have 8 cups of soda, then you now need 16 cups of water. Beer and alcohol also will dehydrate you. The reason you get a hangover is that your body is dehydrated. Try drinking water in between your alcoholic drinks or chug a few glasses of water just before you go to sleep after drinking beers all night. You will feel much better in the morning. IF you know you are going on the long run in the morning, then force yourself to drink at least 3 cups of water just before you fall asleep. Drinking water a few minutes before you start running will not help you during your run. It takes time for your body to absorb the water into your system.
3. Pick the right shoes for your feet.
Shoes are very important in avoiding injury to the feet, ankles, and legs. It can also be responsible for back pains as well. The next time you run look down at your feet. Take note as to where on your foot touches the ground first, whether your feet roll in or out, and if you have a high or low arch. You can then find a shoe designed for your specific foot. If you need help finding a shoe there are many tools out there. My favorite is the shoe finder from RunnersWorld.com and REI.com. You answer some questions and it spits out a huge list of shoes for your specific needs. Simply print out this list and take it with you to try on shoes. Only try on the ones from that list and make sure you fully tie them then run and walk around the store. Try on at least 3 to 5 shoes before making a decision.