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Exercise precautions can help Airmen stay fit to fight

Keeping a fitness routine can prevent exercise-related injuries.

Keeping a fitness routine can prevent exercise-related injuries. By staying on track with workouts, Airmen can avoid overexerting their muscles when it comes time to train for their physical training tests. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Fitness specialists assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron fitness center and annex are available to assist Airmen with adjusting their push-up and sit-up forms in preparation for their physical training tests.

Fitness specialists assigned to the 20th Force Support Squadron fitness center and annex are available to assist Airmen with adjusting their push-up and sit-up forms in preparation for their physical training tests. Individuals can also request an equipment orientation, during which fitness specialists show the requester how to use various pieces of gym equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Warming up prior to a work out with a five to 10 minute walk followed by dynamic stretches can help prevent leg injuries.

Warming up prior to a work out with a five to 10 minute walk followed by dynamic stretches can help prevent leg injuries. Dynamic stretches, which are stretches that use movement, should be performed prior to a workout. Static stretches, which involve holding a position for a short period of time to maintain range of motion, should be performed after a workout. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- At the beginning of the year, the 20th Force Support Squadron fitness center is packed full of individuals looking to improve their physical fitness.

“We usually have an uprising in customers who either already have goals or who want to set goals to start the New Year off,” said Staff Sgt. Wendell Walker, 20th Force Support Squadron fitness and sports noncommissioned officer in charge.

However, individuals can potentially injure themselves in the pursuit of fitness, preventing them from being fit to fight.

“Ignoring early signs of an injury, or ignoring the signs of fatigue that would lead to an injury, could make the injury even worse, therefore taking longer to heal and in turn taking more time away from you being able to do your job,” said Staff Sgt. Marcos Davis, 20th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy technician.

Taking precautions to prevent exercise-related injuries such as maintaining a routine, stretching and taking time to rest, can help individuals ensure they remain fit to fight.

By maintaining a fitness routine throughout the year, Airmen can avoid injury via overexertion when it comes time for their physical training test.

“Sometimes we’ll have patients who will say they’ve been training for their PT test, but it’s only been a couple weeks and they test in a month,” said Davis. “They haven’t been training like they should, so they get acute injuries just from lack of stretching or overuse.”

Davis also suggests individuals do dynamic stretches prior to their workout and static stretches after their workout to help prevent injury.

“Stretching is definitely just as important as the actual workout,” said Davis. “You want to stretch whatever you want to work out. Say if I wanted to work out legs I would want to do a warm-up of about five to 10 minutes of biking or the elliptical and then do a dynamic stretch, which is a motion stretch.”

It is also important to avoid overworking muscles that are still sore from a previous workout, said Davis.

“Listen to your body,” said Davis. “People try to push through it and they think ‘no pain, no gain’ is the way to go. That’s not necessarily true. You want to make sure you rest.”

Investing in one’s fitness can help an individual’s overall health as well as keep Airmen fit to fight. However, exercise-related injuries can slow down one’s progress in the gym without proper precautions.

Fitness specialists at the 20th FSS fitness centers are available during fitness hours to provide information about fitness and assist with gym equipment.