Playing it safe

by Senior Airman Whitney Stork
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Participating in physical fitness is a big part of our military culture. Unfortunately, along with exercise and esprit de corps come unexpected injuries. Whether it’s flag football, basketball, snow skiing or squadron physical training, they can all bring on opportunities for injury.

Military members have to ensure they take the proper precautions when it comes to various physical activities to make sure they don’t injure themselves.

“When it’s intramural sports season, I see a lot of ligament injuries to shoulders, knees and ankles,” said Maj. Brian Smith, 86th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapist. “It’s important to take care of yourself prior to the start of the game.”

Sports injuries have a larger impact than ending the service member’s sports season. They affect Airmen’s ability to perform their physical fitness assessment, maintain deployment readiness, and can even impact their responsibilities as wingmen.

“Even though some injuries can’t be prevented, they still affect the mission and other Airmen in the office,” said Michael Bates, 86th MDOS exercise physiologist. “Others now have to take over for the things you can’t do; it can put a strain on the entire office.”

There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce the number of injuries occurring during physical activities.

“The best way to prevent injuries is to slowly take on the activity and practice before the season starts,” said Smith. “You don’t want to shock your muscles with an activity you haven’t been doing for a while; that’s the fastest way to get hurt.”

Staying active all year long is the easiest way to stay in shape and avoid an injury from physical activities.
“Cross-training, weightlifting, swimming and running are all great ways to stay in shape,” said Smith. “However, even those who do conditioning all year can still get hurt. You need to be cautious of what you’re doing. The use of proper technique and motion is extremely important.”

Staying cautious and being ready for whatever sport you participate in is exceptionally important; however, when injuries do happen there are services available that can help. Airmen can go to sick call or make an appointment with their primary care manager.

Once these organizations have been contacted, and it is determined an injury requires further treatment, patients can be referred to physical therapy where specialists ensure the proper treatment is provided for a speedy recovery.