Risk factors for training-related injuries among men and women in basic combat training

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6):946-54. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200106000-00014.


Purpose: Past investigations indicate that training-related injuries are associated with certain performance-oriented measures of physical fitness and certain lifestyle characteristics. This study examined associations between injuries, direct (physiological) measures of physical fitness, and lifestyle characteristics.

Methods: Subjects were 756 men and 474 women performing the standardized activities involved in U.S. Army Basic Combat Training (BCT). Before BCT, a subsample of subjects (182 men and 168 women) were administered a series of tests that included a treadmill running test (peak VO2), dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition), several measures of muscle strength, a hamstring flexibility test, and a vertical jump. A questionnaire addressed smoking habits and prior physical activity. All subjects were administered the Army Physical Fitness test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a 3.2-km run. Gender, age, stature, and body mass were obtained from physical examination records. Injuries incurred during BCT were transcribed from medical records; for each medical visit, the diagnosis, anatomical location, disposition (final outcome of visit), and days of limited duty were recorded.

Results: Women had over twice the injury rate of men. For men and women, fewer push-ups, slower 3.2-km run times, lower peak VO2, and cigarette smoking were risk factors for time-loss injury. Among the men only, lower levels of physical activity before BCT and both high and low levels of flexibility were also time-loss injury risk factors. Multivariate analysis revealed that lower peak VO2 and cigarette smoking were independent risk factors for time-loss injury.

Conclusions: Lower aerobic capacity and cigarette smoking were independently associated with a higher likelihood of injury in both men and women during a standardized program of physical training. Further studies are needed to assess associations between injury and body composition and muscular strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Body Composition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking*