Exercise precautions can help Airmen stay fit to fight Published Jan. 11, 2018 By Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs 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.