SMR would like to dedicate this to post to all of the men and women that protect and serve our great country every day. Therefore as a tribute we are examining a study that was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a new performance and injury prevention program in the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army.
This study was the second half of a project to first identify biomechanical and neuromuscular deficits in the soldiers, then based on that data a performance and injury prevention program was created and implemented. Commonly the military recruits are sedentary individuals when first enlisting and may be more prone to musculoskeletal injuries. The Army currently uses the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to guide physical training and performance in soldiers; however this only utilizes push-ups, sit-ups, and two-mile run. Therefore, a much more extensive training protocol that not only increases performance but also has the potential to decrease musculoskeletal injuries was needed. Sixty male and female soldiers were recruited for this study and divided into two groups (30 experimental and 30 control participants). The Eagle Tactical Athlete Program (ETAP), which was performed by the experimental group, was divided into four phases: Phase I focused on an introduction to the exercises and allow the body to adapt, phase II focused on a gradual increase in training volume, phase III focused on an increase in intensity with a decrease in volume, and phase IV focused on a gradual taper for post-test, deployment, or cycle reset. For the day-to-day activity the program consisted of 1 session per day for 5 days/week for a total of 8 weeks. Day 1 consisted of speed, agility, and balance; day 2) muscular strength; day 3) interval training; day 4) power development; and day 5) endurance training. The control group performed traditional physical training. Shoulder, hip, knee, hamstring, and torso flexibility and strength were assessed. Balance testing, VO2max, anaerobic power, body composition, and motion analysis was conducted both prior and following the 8 week training program. They found that the ETAP had improved knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion, lumbar/hamstring flexibility, and torso rotation flexibility. The ETAP group also had improvements in knee extension and torso strength. Finally, the ETAP group had improvements in anaerobic power, sit-up test, two mile run, and portions of the APFT (vertical jump, agility, and 300 yard shuttle run).