8th STB Soldiers add longevity to their workouts
May 22, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Training is the backbone of why the U.S. Army is the greatest on the planet. Soldiers train, rain or shine, with hundreds of pounds of gear, in all types of terrain. They run in boots through the mud and sand, ducking under obstacles, up and down hills.
This can wear on a Soldier's motivation and, more importantly, their bodies.
According to studies conducted by the U.S. Army Public Health Command, unit physical training was the leading cause of non-battle related evacuations during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2008, and in a garrison environment, 76 percent of all injuries are caused by running.
This is why many Soldiers of the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, went to train with trainers like Neil Santiago and the Advanced Tactical Athlete Conditioning Program at Fort Shafter, April 29-May 3.
Santiago, a fitness specialist with sports medicine at Schofield Barracks Health Clinic, says the program's aim is a tactical fitness, battle-focused approach to physical training that Soldiers aren't typically receiving with traditional unit PT. It is also an injury prevention initiative that we are pushing out as part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Plan.
"The program answers a few key questions," he said. "How do we reposition? How do we make better choices when we move? What can we do with training programs so that we're not over training causing overuse injuries? Basically we try to keep everybody healthy and in the fight."
A homegrown program that started in 2009, ATAC was created by the Schofield Barracks Physical Therapy team and now has a team at Tripler Army Medical Center that provides course instruction to units at TAMC and Ft. Shafter.
"Our overall goal is Soldier readiness," Santiago continued. "In order to be successful, unit PT leaders need the proper tools to increase comprehensive Soldier fitness and reduce injury levels within the unit. The ATAC program will provide unit PT leaders the tools to accomplish this mission."
Many of the Soldiers were skeptical but were pleased with the results of the training.
"I tore some muscles after [karate] nationals last year and I think it was due to us training so diligently on one side," said Staff Sgt. Randal Kumagai, military intelligence noncommissioned officer with the 8th TSC. "These exercises help open up some of those muscles that have clamped shut. Muscles that we might not even know have clamped up. I think this training will help me heal faster and teach me not to make the same mistakes during my training."
Santiago said that keeping Soldiers healthy was exactly the idea behind ATAC.
"Passing scores on the APFT, minimizing profiles, keeping people healthy for the longevity of their careers are what we are all about," he concluded.