Men who record slow times on a 3-mile run test as part of the standard physical fitness test for officer candidates for the Marine Corps in the USA have a significantly increased risk for being injured during training.
Having a low functional movement screen (FMS) score in combination with a slow run speed increases the risk for all-cause injury still further.
Physical fitness tests are a requirement for all branches of the military, although specific components do vary from service to service. However, they all contain an aerobic endurance effort and a muscular endurance test.
Peter Lisman (Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA) and colleagues investigated how accurately different components of the physical fitness test, which includes pull-ups and abdominal crunches as well as the run and the FMS, predict future injury among 874 young and able bodied men who completed the test within 1 week of beginning the Marine Corps training.
The only factor that significantly predicted all-cause (overuse, traumatic, or other cause) injury over 6-10 weeks of follow up was having a 3-mile run time of 20.5 minutes or slower (at or below the median). Men with such longer run times had a 1.7-fold increased risk for injury compared with their faster peers.
The addition of a low FMS (at or below 14 points) score to a slow run time was associated with a 4.2-fold increased risk for injury compared with a higher FMS score and a faster run time.
"Additional research is needed to further clarify what combination of physical fitness tests and FMS tests would best predict future injuries and whether a particular set of criteria could be used for developing appropriate and effective… injury prevention training programs," write the authors in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
"A limitation of this study was that our sample of Marine Corps Officer Candidates represents a very homogenous population, one that is young and physically fit," they add.
"Given the homogenous population tested in this study, future research investigating the injury predictive value of specific physical fitness tests and FMS test components should seek to evaluate military cohorts entering basic training as well."
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