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Build strong teams to prevent operational stress

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Teamwork is vital to operational success.

In the military, teamwork is vital to operational success. Frequently, multiple service branches work together as teams during combat operations. Practicing teamwork skills and building strong teams, that are adaptive and flexible, are essential for mission success, safety and efficiency of troops, and reduction of operational stress. Click here to read more on the various team building techniques used by the U.S. Army to prevent operational stress.

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Confused about supplements?

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Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. The Natural Medicines Database can help.

Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. There are so many to choose from, and we often have to make our choices based on advertising claims and rely on the manufacturers for ingredient information. Does the supplement actually have the ingredients claimed on the label? Will it have the reported effect on our health?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database is the “scientific gold standard” for evidence-based information on dietary supplements and natural medicines, including drug interactions, effectiveness, safety and use, and more. HPRC has partnered with Natural Medicines Database to allow healthcare providers, Warfighters, and military families to search this comprehensive database in order to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use. The Natural Medicines Database also has “Natural MedWATCH,” which allows users to report an adverse event associated with the use of dietary supplements or natural medicines so that they can then forward the report on to the appropriate regulatory agency.

By going to the HPRC homepage, users can access any of the three database choices provided: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database for Health Professionals, Consumers, or Natural MedWATCH. After choosing one of the sites, first-time users should sign up for an account, which is done with an active DoD email address. Once inside this vast database, a user can search for an individual natural medicine ingredient of interest or a brand name product.

The professional version of the database includes:

  • Evidence-based monographs available for individual natural ingredients.
  • Scientific names of ingredients
  • Information on safety, effectiveness, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage/administration (which are not necessarily recommended or safe doses) of ingredients
  • Patient handouts
  • Brand-name product searches by ingredient
  • “Natural Product Effectiveness Checker” for medical conditions
  • “Natural Product Drug Interaction Checker” for a list of drugs/natural products interactions
  • Comprehensive information on brand-name products, including ingredient lists and summary reports on effectiveness, interactions, and adverse effects.
  • Up-to-date information for over 60,000 brand name products

The consumer version, for military families and Warfighters, contains the same research-based information on herbal remedies, dietary supplements and other natural products, but in an easier-to-understand version. An important point consumers should be aware of is that it may be necessary to research each individual ingredient in a product before making a decision to use it for health benefits.

So, if you want to find credible, evidence-based information on dietary supplements and/or natural products, search the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Evaluating natural health products can be daunting and there is no other comprehensive, reliable site like it to guide you in making your decision.

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Marines address fitness testing

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Failing a fitness test can get a Marine passed over for promotion,perhaps ending career hopes. According to an article from KVOA.com based in Tucson, AZ, there is growing pressure to hold marines to a higher standard for physical fitness and combat readiness.

Failing a fitness test can get a Marine passed over for promotion, perhaps ending career hopes. According to this article from KVOA.com based in Tucson, AZ, there is growing pressure to hold marines to a higher standard for physical fitness and combat readiness. In response, the Marine Corps Semper Fit program is investing millions in new gyms with functional workout rooms, recreation programs, and nutrition classes.

Functional Movement screening might be a better assessment of total fitness.

HPRC Fitness Arena:
When you’re in the military, being fit is part of the job – that has never changed. Neither, it seems, has the Physical Readiness (PRT) Test.

Are PRTs still accurate assessments of physical fitness levels?  The days of calisthenics and running several miles for exercise are gone. Comfort Zones and gyms on- or off-base are filled with exercise toys such as cable cross machines, Roman benches, kettlebells, and miles of cardiovascular equipment. Most military personnel are exercising with the latest technology, or at least with free weights. Shouldn’t PRTs utilize the most current knowledge of functional exercise and movement?

“Functional movement” is defined as real-world biomechanics of body movement. Sit-ups and push-ups are not functional; they show strength and/or flexibility, but not true overall fitness.

Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screening (FMS), however, assesses the quality of seven functional movements to determine a persons’ symmetry, grading each movement (21 being a perfect score). FMS might be a better assessment in terms of a person’s total fitness level. Most studies using FMS have evaluated the prediction of injury rates based on the level of symmetry (for example: Military Joe shows rotary stability in the left shoulder but not in the right – the asymmetry of his shoulders most likely predicts injury when climbing walls in theater).

An unpublished study by COL Francis O’Connor, MD on injury prediction in Marine Corps Officer candidates (MC) found that those who scored 14 or higher (out of 21) had a lower injury rate. A study on NFL players also had similar findings.

Should the military re-evaluate its PRTs in terms of functional movement or should it stay with its current program? Contact us here at the HPRC if you have thoughts to share.

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Army revises training program to deal with overweight and unfit recruits

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The New York Times presents a look at the Army’s new physical-training program to deal with recruits who reach basic training having less strength and endurance than those privates in the past.

The New York Times August 31 edition presents a look at the Army’s new physical-training program to deal with  recruits who reach basic training having less strength and endurance than those in the past.  According to a Lt. Gen. who oversees basic training for the Army, “What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be”.  The cause of this decline, according to the article is a "legacy of junk food and video games, compounded by a reduction in gym classes in many high schools".

The article also cites the percentage of male recruits who failed the most basic fitness test at one training center rose to more than one in five in 2006, up from just 4 percent in 2000. Additionally, the article notes that the percentages were higher for women.

The new fitness regime tries to solve the problems of unfit soldiers by incorporating more stretching, more exercises for the abdomen and lower back, instead of the traditional sit ups, and more agility and balance training.

The full article is here: Making Soldiers Fit to Fight, Without the Situps

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Performing at your peak in high altitudes

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
Researchers at USARIEM conduct research on military performance in high altitude environments and published their findings in Altitude Acclimatization and Illness Management Guidelines this year.

Researchers at USARIEM conduct research on military performance in high altitude environments and published their findings in Altitude Acclimatization and Illness Management Guidelines this year.

Their recommendations? Staying hydrated, healthy eating and refraining from smoking helps Warfighters to perform in high altitude environments. Click here for more information and recommendations for performing optimally in high altitudes.

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