Injuries of all kinds are a common side effect of boot camp and military training workouts, and knee injuries are one of the most common. Considering all the running and jumping that takes place during these workouts, this is not particularly surprising.
Knee injuries may be common, but they are not an inevitable part of military training. Read on to learn more about how to stay safe and prevent knee injuries during intense training sessions.
Most Common Boot Camp Knee Injuries
First, it is important to know what the most common boot camp knee injuries are. Some that regularly show up during military training exercises include:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (also known as PFPS or runner’s knee): pain in the kneecap that results from cartilage damaged, which is often caused by overuse.
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB Syndrome): pain on the side of the leg, between the knee and hip, that occurs when the iliotibial band (connective tissue that runs from the hip to the top of the shin) becomes irritated and tense. This tension usually results from poor warm-ups (or no warm-up at all) and overtraining.
How to Prevent Knee Injuries
Both of these knee injuries are very common, but they can be avoided with proper training. Some tips to keep in mind to avoid injuring your knee during military training exercises include:
Ease Into a Running Programme
If you have not been running consistently prior to starting your military training, you are setting yourself up for an injury if you try to jump head first into a running program.
Start slow and increase your mileage gradually. This will give you time to learn/develop proper running form and techniques and help you avoid knee injuries.
Replace Your Running Shoes Regularly
You should replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles, or every six months, whichever comes first. It is also best to avoid using your running shoes as everyday shoes – this can negatively impact your gait and put unnecessary stress on your knee joints.
Stretching and improving your mobility will help you avoid knee injuries (and other types of injuries) during intense training sessions. When you are able to comfortably move your joints through a full range of motion, you will be less likely to compensate and create muscle imbalances, which increase your risk of injury.
To prevent knee injuries, focus on gaining mobility in the hamstrings, hips, ankles, calves, and low back.
Incorporate Strengthening Exercises into Your Routine
Strength training is also important for avoiding injuries. The stronger your muscles are, the better they will be able to support your joints during strenuous workouts.
Research also shows that strengthening exercises can make a big difference in military officers’ chances of avoiding knee injuries while training. Knee pain is one of the main reasons new officers drop out.
Focus on strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to prevent knee pain. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, and calf raises are all good ones to incorporate into your training.
Give Your Knees a Rest
Make sure you are also giving your body time to rest and recover, too. During boot camp, long periods of rest may be hard to come by, but it is still important to find ways to let your joints recoup from tough training sessions.
Make sure you are getting quality sleep at night, too – this is when your body does most of its repairing.
How to Treat Knee Injuries
If you incur any of the knee injuries mentioned above, these tips can help you recover and get back to your training faster.
- As soon as your knee starts hurting, focus on icing and elevating it as much as possible
- Wear a brace for lightweight knee support and compression while training and walking around
- Try to swap out running for non-impact forms of aerobics (cycling, rowing, swimming, etc.)
- Use anti-inflammatory medications or natural anti-inflammatory supplements (curcumin, ginger, tart cherry juice, etc.) to help minimize pain and swelling
Knee injuries are common during military training exercises, but they can also be prevented. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for boot camp or another form of training, and, if you do sustain an injury, be sure to be proactive about caring for it so you don not end up permanently sidelined.