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1 The adoption of an empowered physical training programme in a military population – the benefit in injury reduction. A retrospective cohort study
  1. Graeme Downes1 and
  2. Luke Doddington2
  1. 1Armoured Medical Regiment, British Army, UK
  2. 2The Light Dragoons, British Army, UK


Introduction Musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) represent a significant burden within the British Army, this has been extensively studied amongst recruits. It was decided to study the injury rates of a Light Cavalry Squadron who have adopted an empowered physical training program involving personal responsibility for physical training with periodic benchmark exercises.

Methods Anonymised data were collected between April and August 2020 during an operational tour. The number of presentations to the medical centre for MSKI as well as the number of days of restricted duties were collected. The data relating to the same operational tour, exactly one year previously, for another Light Cavalry squadron were collected as a control. Both units were deployed in the same location, in the same role, and with the same population, fluctuating around 138 personnel.

Results Between April and August 2020 there were 124 consultations for MSKI amongst the study population, this resulted in 241 days of restricted duties. In comparison for the control population (April to August 2019), there were 225 consultations for MSKI, and this resulted in 777 days of restricted duties.

Conclusions It was found that the current unit has experienced a lower incidence of MSKI and fewer restricted duties days when compared to the control group. It is proposed that the greater emphasis on personal responsibility for physical fitness has allowed personnel to develop their fitness with a broader range of physical activity. This has resulted in a lesser burden of overuse injuries. It is also thought that the focus on personal responsibility has led to a greater desire to engage in physical training. Further work is needed to ensure that this trend continues throughout the operational tour and that the empowered training programme has a comparable benefit in physical fitness to the standard training program.

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