Simplifying Injury Prevention

Too often I see soldiers approaching 30 blaming their musculoskeletal ailments on “getting old.” I typically reply with a comment about some professional athletes not hitting their prime until 30. So why do so many of us feel like we are breaking down while these athletes continue to excel? Yes, genetics and lifestyle are big components. However, programming is a large factor and is easily modifiable.

You can break down overall physical fitness into many components. For example, CrossFit teaches the ten general physical skills: power, speed, endurance, coordination, agility, etc. When speaking to soldiers and patients about injury prevention, I simplify it to three: Stability, Mobility, and Control. Visually, they form the points of a performance triangle:

Each of these points encompass multiple components of physical fitness, but often it’s best to use the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid). “Stability” here includes such traits as strength, endurance, and power. “Mobility” is a combination of muscular flexibility and joint range of motion. The final corner of “Control” consists of motor control, coordination, and agility.

An athlete with a well-designed program will have a good balance of these three elements and find themselves near the middle of the triangle (the “X” represents the athlete).