Physical training injuries and interventions for military recruits

Joseph M. Molloy, David N. Feltwell, Shawn J. Scott, David W. Niebuhr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Low physical fitness levels are associated with increased musculoskeletal injury risk and attrition among military recruits. The authors review physical fitness trends, injury risk factors, and Department of the Army initiatives to address recruit fitness, injuries, and attrition. Initiatives include the Fitness Assessment Program, which reduced injury risk and attrition among low-fit trainees, and the Assessment of Recruit Motivation and Strength, which enabled the Army to enlist individuals exceeding body composition accession standards without increasing attrition. Physical Readiness Training (PRT) is the Army's primary initiative to address training-related injuries and attrition. PRT's inherent injury control and exercise progression components are designed to address low fitness levels across entry-level training. PRT has been shown to decrease injury rates, but low-fit recruits remain at increased risk regardless of program design. The authors recommend resuming pre-enlistment fitness screening and fitness programming before low-fit recruits begin entry-level training. The decision whether to screen for fitness before beginning entry-level training could be based upon the existing recruiting environment in terms of applicant supply and the demand for recruits. However, the Army should anticipate increased injury and attrition rates when discontinuing screening and/or fitness programming for low-fit recruits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-558
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


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