Skip to main content

Armed Forces: Training

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the long-term effects of physical training on the joints of servicemen are better understood; and if he will make a statement. (123254)

UK service personnel will characteristically take part in a wide range of physical activities during the course of their service. These will include not only supervised activities related to their training, but also many unsupervised physical activities, physical training and sport undertaken at their own volition. For this reason, it is often not possible to attribute with confidence a specific chronic overuse injury to any single, supervised, physical training activity.

However, the nature and occurrence of the most common lower limb injuries (LLI) have formed the focus for many research papers, and LLI have been shown to be common to military populations throughout NATO. When all factors have been considered, the single most commonly-cited physical activity during which the majority of overuse lower limb injuries have been reported is running.

MOD undertakes research to understand the underlying factors which may explain the relatively high incidence (compared with age and gender-matched, non-military populations) of LLIs among service personnel. Research has been conducted (both by the UK and throughout NATO) on a regular basis since the 1970s. Recent research funded by MOD’s Human Capability scientific research programme has included studies of the pathogenesis of stress fractures; bone health; musculoskeletal injuries; and a Physical Training shoe project.