News: Physical resiliency for body and mind
Story by Sgt. Omar Estrada
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – The GREYWOLF brigade is in the process of molding 21st century, combat ready soldier-athletes by ensuring they are well rounded in the following pillars: physical, social, emotional, family and spiritual. These pillars of fitness ensure soldiers are balanced and able to perform under many challenging situations.
Capt. Joseph Lopez, the physical therapist for 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a physical resiliency training class at the Memorial Hall on Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq on Sept. 19.
For the past 30 years, the Army conducted all physical training sessions using guidance from Field Manual 21-20, (the Army physical fitness manual) where units were concentrating more on having soldiers pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, by running four to five miles, three times a week. Research has shown that doing pushups and sit-ups until soldiers reached muscle failure did not allow soldiers to fully progress with their physical resiliency.
The progression of Training Circular 3-22.20 is dramatically improving soldier mobility outside of that straight plane mentality of the past three decades. This is much more realistic both in an athletic culture as well as in combat; soldiers don’t do things in a straight line in a deployed environment.
“It’s going to make physical readiness fun to perform, instead of doing the dull fashion of pushups, sit-ups and go run,” said Sgt. 1st Class Larry J. Owens, the senior paralegal for the 3rd AAB, 1st Cav. Div., legal office, and a native of Palm Bay, Fla.
Under the Army’s new physical resiliency training program, soldiers will conduct physical training in the normal army physical training uniform for the first couple of weeks, and then progress to wearing the Army combat uniform, and finally, doing the same agility and endurance movements with a combat load by providing sufficient training before upgrading to each stage.
“This will dramatically improve the soldier athlete or the tactical athlete that the Army wants us to become,” said Lopez.
During combat, a soldier must be able to jump, conduct three to five second rushes, kick in doors or drag a wounded comrade to safety. Performing some of these movements requires the body to twist and turn into positions that a four mile run will not.
If soldiers practice in an environment that requires them to move a lot more and then transition to heavier loads prior to deployment, that may decrease the risk of serious injury.
“What we want to do is have warriors physically resilient before going to a combat situation,” said Lopez.
The Army is trying to make the optimal tactical athlete, without causing any injuries.
Lopez conducted several functional movement screening tests that measure a soldier’s agility, flexibility and balance. The tests are designed to find out who is prone to injuries.
“I learned that I don’t have much flexibility in my legs. I don’t have the best stability as well,” said Owens.
Lopez, analyzed warriors feet and shoes by pairing them up to make sure that soldiers are wearing the proper running shoes. Soldiers were also informed of their foot type and what type of running shoes to buy; motion control for flat feet, stability for a normal arch and cushioned shoes for soldiers with a high arch.
“When I came into the Army, no one looked at my feet, no one told me what type of running shoes I needed. The only way I found out is when I went to a sports store. Yesterday, Capt. Lopez told me that this is the right type of shoes for my feet, which made me more resilient,” said Owens.
Knowing what type of shoes soldiers should wear for their foot type and knowing their own weaknesses in movement patterns along with conducting PRT, soldiers will reduce injuries and maximize their combat and physical resiliency.
Physical resiliency shows how you can improve your physical fitness level and also the positives that come from physical fitness.
“If I’m physically resilient, that gives me the self-confidence and the abilities to lead and overcome tough situations in life,” Lopez said.
The new training standards are designed to better prepare the modern day soldier for combat.
“If you are training for combat, passing a fitness test should be easy, but if you are training to pass a fitness test, that might not prepare you for combat.” said Lopez.