Injuries and risk factors in a 100-mile (161-km) infantry road march

Prev Med. 1999 Feb;28(2):167-73. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0396.

Abstract

Background: Light infantry soldiers (N = 218) completed a 161-km cross-country march over 5 days carrying an average +/- SD load mass (i.e., the weight of all equipment and clothing) of 47 +/- 5 kg.

Methods: Prior to the march, height, weight, body fat, and physical fitness (3.2-km run, sit-ups, push-ups) were measured. Soldiers completed a demographic questionnaire which included questions on age and tobacco use history.

Results: Thirty-six percent (78/218) of the soldiers suffered one or more injuries. Of the total injuries, 48% presented were blisters and 18% were foot pain (not otherwise specified). Eight percent (17/218) of the soldiers were unable to complete the march because of injuries. Thirty-five percent (27/78) of the injured soldiers had 1 or more limited duty days for a total of 69 days. Risk of injury was higher among smokers (risk ratio = 1.8, P = 0.03 compared to nonsmokers) and lower among older soldiers (risk ratio = 3.2, P = 0.02, < 20 years compared to > 24 years).

Conclusions: Carrying heavy loads over long distances can result in a high injury incidence to the lower body, since 36% of soldiers were injured during the 161-km march. Smoking and younger age (< 20 years) were independent risk factors for injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Age Factors
  • Back Injuries / epidemiology
  • Blister / epidemiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • United States
  • Walking / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*