FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 17, 2017) -- The number one priority of the Army continues to be readiness and the Soldier's ability to complete the tasks required of their military occupation specialties. Being a Soldier is not easy; one must have mental acuity and sustain a certain physical toughness.

August is Performance Triad month. With the Army's Performance Triad, Soldiers can gain the acuity, strength and toughness needed to fight for the United States and win the wars we are faced with.

Activity is one of the three parts that encompass the Performance Triad. Physical fitness is a key part in performance. It is essential for Soldiers to be safe when conducting any training. When Soldiers complete physical training it must be operational and relate to the overall goal in attaining good health, injury prevention and a constant state of readiness to deploy.

Performance Triad: A Leader's Guide and Planner states "each year, Soldiers are injured, some fatally, while exercising or participating in sports or other recreational activities. In fact, sports and physical training are the third leading cause of injury hospitalizations." Across the Army there were 25 million limited duty days in 2014 according to the Army Public Health Command. A 2015 seven-month study completed by the Physical Therapy Clinic showed that 52 percent of all Soldiers who were seen by KAHC Physical Therapy were due to physical training. It is unfortunate that one of the most important parts of being a Soldier, physical fitness is what keeps us in a non-ready state. Most of the reason can be attributed to a lack of education.

There is a saying, "work smarter, not harder." This is the case for Soldiers. With proper education and implementation, the percentage of injuries can decrease. Soldiers should never jump into an exercise they have never done with full force. Only increase when you have good form and fitness. Do not just go to the gym and work the big muscle groups. Vary workouts with strength, mobility and endurance training. Be careful when deciding to play sports -- wear the proper protective equipment.

All Soldiers can work to prevent injuries within themselves and their units. Design the unit physical training sessions around the demands of the unit mission essential task list, trainings, daily stresses and recovery time.

When performing physical training, ensure to use proper lifting techniques. Even if you are able to lift heavy weights with proper form, include a spotter. Always remember to breathe during a workout. Take advantage of the resources on the post.

Meet with practitioners at the Physical Therapy Clinic. This clinic provides the highest quality physical therapy health care to all eligible TRICARE beneficiaries, provides injury prevention and rehabilitation consultation to Fort Lee active duty units, provides clinical education to affiliated physical therapy students, and ensures continued professional development of all physical therapy staff members.

The clinic is a great resource for injury prevention feedback and classes for units. Each unit should keep track of all profiles and look for trends that might be leading to injury. Leverage the Master Fitness Trainers in all units should to ensure the physical training program is optimal for unit readiness.

Always start a physical training session with a dynamic warm up to wake up muscles. Stretching with movement will allow muscles to move through the motion to get ready for more force from the specific exercises. At the end of a workout, stretch statically holding the stretch for a total of two minutes split into four times for 30 seconds each.

The Army's Physical Readiness Training program is meant to reduce injuries. PRT is used to increase a Soldier's ability to complete warrior tasks and battle drills. At the core of the program is the ability to perform functional fitness. If it is a normal movement on the battle field it should be trained during the physical fitness time.

In closing, to continue to have good health or gain good health one must stay active. Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. When sitting, use good posture to avoid injury. Staying active can help keep everyone healthy along with the other aspects of the Performance Triad -- Sleep and Nutrition. The staff of the Physical Therapy Clinic at KAHC are willing to help all Soldiers in any way we can in order to keep everyone's activity up and injuries down.

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For questions, contact the Physical Therapy team at (804) 734-9010.