See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

They used to call him “The Giant” – they being The Taliban. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is still a giant, he’s just not fighting in Afghanistan anymore. His new fight is the ten-yard fight and the erstwhile U.S. Army second lieutenant’s new job is protecting the back of Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger. And judging by the team’s performance against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 8, 2018, he must be pretty good at it.

Before the game kicked off, Fox Sports caught a glimpse of Villanueva jogging over to the sidelines to greet some active duty and reserve troops. That’s when you can really understand why the Taliban gave him that nickname.


Villanueva is a West Point graduate and played collegiate football on the offensive line for the Army Black Knights. When photographed with other NFL players — who are all large human beings — his size doesn’t seem all that remarkable. It’s when he goes to the sidelines to visit U.S. troops that you can see just how huge he is compared to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States – who are no strangers to working out themselves.

And that’s probably why the Steelers have him watching Big Ben’s back.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

One of these two is nicknamed “Big,” the other one is Alejandro Villanueva.

On the field, Roethlisberger looks like he lives up to the nickname “Big Ben.” The Steelers QB is 6’5″ and 240 pounds, cutting a unique outline on the playing field. In comparison, Villanueva is 6’9″ and 320 pounds.

Villanueva is still dedicated to the traditions held dear by most military veterans. During the 2017-2018 season, he created a row by leaving the locker room for the national anthem, leaving the rest of his team inside, a decision he later regretted. When sales of his jersey spiked in response to that action, it became the most popular jersey in the league. The former Army Ranger donated the proceeds of jersey sales to the USO and veteran-related nonprofits in AFC North cities, as he always has.

That consistency defines Alejandro Villanueva. He wasn’t just visiting troops before the Steelers-Panthers game because of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” month or any special event. He always goes to shake hands with visiting troops before every game, home or away.

Just for fun, watch Villanueva manhandle legendary Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is 6’3″ and 265 pounds and is number 19 on the all-time QB sack records. Villanueva chops him down like he’s made of balsa wood.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Rangers lead the way.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 great stretches for lower back pain

There’s nothing more debilitating than lower back pain. The grimaces, groans, and feeble feelings one gets from back pain happen because the area is full of nerve endings that react violently to any injury inflicted on them (like a twist while carrying a particularly squirmy kid). If you’ve strained a muscle, there is no real shortcut to healing: You have to rest, ice, and wait it out as your body repairs the microtears. But often, back pain is caused not by tears but by tightness or spasms, and these issues can be addressed through stretching.

These 7 moves are designed to target your lower back. In each case, the stretch should be no deeper than a position you can comfortably hold for at least 30 seconds, and should never be so intense as to cause pain. Slowly ease into each position, and when you reach a point of manageable intensity, focus on breathing in and out deeply for 30 seconds to one minute.


(Photo by Katee Lue)

1. Child’s pose

Funny, isn’t it, that a likely source of your back pain is also the name of the exercise to ease it? To perform this yoga-inspired move, start on all fours. Slowly sink your hips back toward your feet, until your butt touches your heels and your chest is pressed against your quads. Extend your arms in front of you and feel the gentle stretch along your back.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

2. Cradle pose

Turn over onto your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Raise your feet and bring your knees toward your chest. Wrap your arms over your shins as if you are giving them a big hug. Gently pull your knees in closer to your spine, raising your head so that your back is rounded.

3. Figure 4

Start facing a chair back, table, or sturdy towel rack. Cross your right foot over your left knee, bending your right knee out to the side so that your legs form the shape of the number “4.” Holding the support in front of you, bend your left knee, stick your butt out, and sink into the stretch, rounding your spine and pulling away from the support to deepen the stretch in your lower back. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Cat pose

Another yoga classic, start this move on all fours. Drop your head toward the floor and round your back, imagining the center of your spine being lift by a string toward the ceiling.

5. Floor twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Spread arms out to either side for support. Gently let your knees drop to the right side while you rotate your head and torso to the left. Return to center, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Jakari Ward)

6. Chair stretch

Sitting in a chair, cross your right leg over your left. Place your left hand at the outside of your right knee. Gently press against your right knee as you twist your head and torso to the right, letting your legs turn slightly to the left. Return to neutral. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Runner’s stretch

Sometimes, a tight lower back is exacerbated by even tighter hamstrings. For this stretch, start sitting on the floor, both legs straight in front of you. Turn your right leg out and bend your right knee, sliding your right foot up so it touches the instep of your left knee. Lean forward and grab your left toes with both hands (grasp your left calf if you don’t have the flexibility to reach that far) feeling the stretch down your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Alexander Mils)

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Navy ditches sit-ups and adds rowing for new PT test

Sailors who have long pushed for Navy leaders to come up with a better way to measure abdominal strength will finally get their way.

Sit-ups will be axed from the Navy’s physical readiness test starting in 2020, the service’s top officer announced on May 29, 2019. Sailors can expect planks and rowing tests to replace the event on the annual assessment.

“We’re going to eliminate the sit-ups,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in a video message announcing the changes. “Those have been shown to do more harm than good. They’re not a really good test of your core strength.”


Instead, Richardson said, the Navy will be replacing the sit-ups with a plank. Details about how that might affect scoring or how long sailors might need to hold the straight, bridge-like position were not immediately announced.


2020 PRT Updates

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Commands with rowing machines will also be adding a rowing event to the PRT, Richardson said.

“You can choose to get onto a rowing machine to do your cardio if that’s what you prefer to do,” he said.

The changes were driven by feedback from the fleet, Richardson said in the Facebook message, and have been tested and evaluated. The changes are another way, he said, the Navy is moving toward getting “best-ever performance every single day.”

Last year, the Marine Corps began allowing those with medical conditions preventing them from completing the run on their fitness test to opt for a 5,000-meter rowing test instead. Those Marines can still earn full points on their physical fitness test if they complete the event in the allotted time.

Navy leaders will release more information about the new PRT rules soon, Richardson said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why Bill Belichick doesn’t wear NFL ‘Salute to Service’ gear

It’s safe to say that no one would describe the NFL’s third most-winningest coach as a fashion maven. During most Patriots games, head coach Bill Belichick can be seen on the sidelines, wearing some version of a Patriots sweatshirt. Over the course of the man’s 18-year career as the Patriots’ HMFIC, he’s committed more fashion penalties than anyone ever seen on television.

The one thing you don’t see him in is the NFL’s annual November Salute to Service swag. The reason is simple, and if you know anything about the Pats’ head coach, it’s undeniably Belichick.


After five Super Bowl wins and an NFL-leading .628 winning percentage, it’s all come down to this: Why doesn’t Bill Belichick ever wear the NFL’s Salute to Service sweatshirts? This season, he actually answered the question for reporters. The first Sunday in November 2018 passed, and while every sideline in the country was adorned with olive green hoodies, one person was conspicuously still in his trademark, regular Patriots gear.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sports the NFL’s 2018 “Salute to Service” hoodie vs. the Patriots on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018.

“Honestly, I don’t think what sweatshirt I wear is that important,” he told reporters during a Monday press conference. “What’s important to me is what your actions are, what you do, so I try to make those count.”

Belichick’s father was Steve Belichick, a World War II veteran and longtime coaching staff member at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Having spent much of his life in and around Naval officers and midshipmen, it’s probably safe to say the younger Belichick developed an appreciation for the U.S. Armed Forces.

As a matter of fact, it was his time spent at the Naval Academy as a youth that developed his proven approach to football.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

“Depending on the weather and so forth, I just wear the same thing for every game,” Belichick told reporters on Nov. 5, 2018.

In an interview with Nantucket Magazine, the coach described how the football program at Annapolis led to his direction of the New England Patriots.

“When I look back on it, one of the things I learned at Annapolis, when I grew up around the Navy football teams in the early sixties — Joe Bellino, Roger Staubach, Coach Wayne Hardin, and some of the great teams they had — I didn’t know any differently. I just assumed that’s what football was. Guys were very disciplined. They worked very hard. They did extra things. They were always on time, alert, ready to go, team-oriented, unselfish. I thought that’s the way it all was. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I can see how that molded me.”
See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Beli-chic.

The Patriots’ coach is also well-known for his references to military history when discussing football strategy and on-field, in-game tactics with players and subordinate coaches. Military history and discipline is instilled in everyone in the Patriots organization, starting with the man at the top. Everyone has to go learn their military history, sources in the organization told the Wall Street Journal.

Bill Belichick isn’t about making empty gestures to the military, he and the New England Patriots live the idea behind ‘Salute to Service’ every day. So, when Bill Belichick’s cut-sleeves Patriots hoodie isn’t green during November, cut the guy some slack.

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

The workout bench is something you find in just about every gym — even those tiny hotel workout rooms that can fit maybe three people. But it’s such a boring workout. It’s a flat, rectangular, stationary object with none of the bells and whistles of those fancy machines at the gym and all you ever see anyone do on it is bench press big weights, over and over. Here’s some advice: Get over it. The bench plays a crucial role in any strength-training program because, yes, it’s everywhere, but also it is versatile and allows for an increased range of motion during any given strength exercise.

You could spend a whole session doing variations on the traditional bench press and leave the gym a fitter man. But you can get even more mileage from your bench routine if you throw in some full body exercises that get your heart rate up and work other major muscle groups. Check out these 10 bench moves that get the job done.


1. Dumbbell triceps extension

Lie on the bench, feet on floor, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Raise dumbbells straight over your chest. Allow arms to drift back over your head slightly. Bend elbows and lower dumbbells toward the floor. Straighten elbows and raise dumbbells overhead again. (Note: If you feel more strain in your elbows than triceps, reach your arms farther behind your head.) 10 reps, 2 sets.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Danielle Cerullo)

2. Decline sit-ups

Angle the bench to a roughly 30- to 45-degree position. Lie with your feet at the high-end, hooking your heels over the back of the bench, or using a strap around the ankles for support. Keeping hands behind your head, do 3 sets of 20 sit-ups. (Note: If you find a full sit-up too difficult in this position, either lessen the bench angle, or do crunches instead.)

3. Step-ups

Stand facing the bench, about a foot away. Place your right foot on the bench and step up, raising your left knee high in front of you. Step down. Repeat 10 times on the right side, then 10 set-ups with your left leg. Do 3 sets.

4. Incline fly

Hinge bench so that the seat is flat and back is at a 45-degree angle. Sit with feet on floor and lean back, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Raise your arms straight front of your chest, then open them wide out to the sides, letting them pass the 90-degree angle if possible. Raise them back in front of your chest. 15 reps, 2 sets.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Victor Freitas)

5. Leg raises

Lie on a flat bench, hips and butt positioned at the edge of one end, feet on floor. Place hands over your head, gripping the other end of the bench for support, or under your lower back. Lift your feet and straighten legs out in front of you, so that they are suspended in the air and creating a straight line with the rest of your body. Slowly raise your legs to the ceiling (count to 5). Lower them back down. 10 reps, 2 sets.

6. Isometric hold fly

The beauty of dumbbells is their symmetry — weights perfectly balanced on either side of your grip. Holding the dumbbell at one end, however, adds a whole new layer challenge, engaging more muscles and testing your body’s balance as well as strength. For this move, lie back on the bench, feet on floor. Holding a dumbbell in either hand, with your grip all the way at one end of the weight, raise dumbbells above your chest with straight arms, then open them wide out to the sides. Raise arms again until they are above your chest. Bend elbows, and lower dumbbells to chest. 10 reps, 2 sets.

7. Incline bench press

Set the bench at a 45-degree incline. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and lift it off the rack. Lower to your chest with a controlled movement, then drive through your feet, engage your core, and press it toward the ceiling. (Note: Make sure to keep the barbell directly overhead, rather than drifting forward.)

8. One-arm rows

Holding a dumbbell in your left hand, stand at the left side of the bench and place your right knee and right hand on it (as if you are down on all fours, but just two limbs). Leaning forward so that your back is parallel to the floor, drop your left shoulder slightly, bend your left elbow, and imagine squeezing your shoulder blades together as you raise the dumbbell up to your chest. Lower. Do 10 reps on each side, 3 sets total.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Domagoj Ćosić)

9. Bench press

Ok, ok. We’re not going to stop you from performing the bench press. If you’re going to do it (and it’s a fine move, so don’t let us stop you), do it right: Lie on the bench, feet on floor, grabbing the bar with hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift bar out of rack and lower it toward your chest. Tuck elbows in at your sides. As soon as the bar touches your chest, engage your core and drive through your feet to raise the bar overhead. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

10. Close-grip press

Same exercise as above, except place your hands just inside shoulder-width apart. This angle uses your triceps more, pectoral muscles less. 10 reps, 3 sets.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

USAA invites Army-Navy game fans to celebrate virtually at Army-Navy House

SAN ANTONIO – USAA, the presenting-sponsor of the 121st Army-Navy Game on Dec. 12, is launching the “Army-Navy House” sweepstakes ahead of this year’s game to help fans continue to celebrate the game’s rivalry and traditions despite COVID-19 restrictions.

One of college football’s most revered and storied rivalries will continue as the Army Black Knights take on the Navy Midshipmen at Michie Stadium on the campus at West Point, NY. However, only the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets, the students at each academy, will be allowed in the stands. No outside fans will be able to attend in person.

USAA has planned the Army-Navy House sweepstakes to allow fans to carry on the rivalry from the comfort of their home. Fans can visit www.ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off their fandom to be entered into the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York City. One winner from each fandom will be chosen. Fans can also share their uploaded photos to social media using the hashtag #ArmyNavyHouse.

“There is no other rivalry that matches the passion, tradition and patriotism of the Army-Navy Game,” said USAA Chief Brand Officer Tony Wells, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “Brothers and sisters in arms all year, this is the one afternoon when they are rivals. While we share fans’ disappointment that we cannot celebrate these future leaders in person, we can still share our support through Army-Navy House and come together virtually as we have learned to do during this pandemic.”

In addition to the two grand prize winners, 1,000 fans from each Academy who upload a photo will be eligible to win a commemorative ticket from this year’s game. Many Army-Navy fans have ticket stubs from games they have attended for the past 10, 20 or 30 years in a row. The commemorative ticket is a chance for fans to keep their streak alive even though they can’t be there in person.

This year’s playing of “America’s Game” marks the first time the Army-Navy Game will be played at a home site since World War II when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game and West Point the 1943 game.

The 121st playing of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA will air on CBS at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, Dec. 12. The annual Army-Navy Game is normally the last regular season matchup in college football, and Navy leads the series 61-52-7, having snapped a three-game Army winning streak last year .

About USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com

USAA 2020 Army Navy Game Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 18+. Starts at 12:00:01 a.m. CT on 12/2/20 and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. CT on 12/17/20.  See Official rules at www.ArmyNavyHouse.com for details on how to enter, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288-0020. The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners. Membership eligibility and product restrictions apply and are subject to change. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. © 2020 USAA. 269007-0320

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why men should care about their BMI

Few things make men gain weight as quickly as fatherhood — men exercise less, eat terribly, and endure hormonal changes that pack on the pounds (and keep them packed). Still, just because new dads strain the scales doesn’t mean they should be nervous about their weight. Weight measurements can only tell guys so much about their health without taking height into account. However, body mass index, or BMI, figures both height and weight in and this can tell fathers far more about the status of their dad bods.

“Being a Dad doesn’t change what his BMI should be,” laughs Keith Ayoob, a pediatric nutritionist and clinical practitioner. “You want to keep it under 25. Over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is obese. These numbers hold throughout adulthood, dad or not.”


The measurement of BMI was first introduced in the 19th century by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, who was a mathematician and not physician. His goal was to develop a quick and easy formula to measure obesity. Part of the reason BMI caught on as a popular indicator of health is that it’s easy for anyone to calculate, as long as they know their height and weight. First, a person would multiply how much they weigh in pounds by 703, then divide it by their height in inches squared. If the results are between 18.5 and 25, they’re in a healthy range. If their BMI is above 25 then they’re overweight. If it’s over 30 they’re obese. And if it’s under 18.5, they might want to start drinking Ensure. Although men tend to have higher BMIs than women, the recommendations are the same for both. Anything between 18.5 and 25 is ideal.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Jenny Hill)

Figuring out your BMI is simple, but it might be a little too simple, some scientists suspect. The biggest criticism of BMI as an overall health indicator is that it does not take into account the difference between muscle and fat. As a result, someone who does not exercise could have a lower BMI than a professional athlete who’s the same height yet weighs more, but that doesn’t necessarily make them healthier.

That said, for most dads who are not pro-athletes, a BMI over 25 is most likely going to signal a need for some changes, which are going to be hard to make with kids around

“Men don’t go through all the changes women do when having kids, but dad’s lifestyle will probably change, and that poses challenges, to be sure,” Ayoob says. One of these changes includes testosterone levels that decline when men have children, as well as with age.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Jude Beck)

“We know that higher testosterone levels leads to less weight gain,” adds family physician Jeffrey Walden. “So, unfortunately, men in their thirties and forties will have slower metabolic rates overall compared to their 18-year-old self.”

However, Ayoob and Waldern agree that dads should worry less about losing testosterone and more about losing sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress hormones like cortisol in the body, which can lead to junk food cravings and low energy. Cortisol can actually make bodies swell and hold onto fat cells. As much as diet and exercise can help, parents are never going to get their BMIs under control if they’re only getting five hours of sleep a night.

The best thing dads can do to offset their sleep loss and weight gain is to create and stick to a schedule that includes both exercise and sleep. Maintaining a schedule will help dads find new opportunities to move around, whether that means going for a run or pushing a stroller. Given the physical requirements of fatherhood, it’s possible that dads who exercise will see their BMI go down and their weight stay the same. That’s fine. Strength is not a problem.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Filios Sazeides)

However, being numbers obsessed can be.

“Numbers can be helpful, but don’t be overly distracted or lose sight of what’s important,” Walden recommends. “Most fathers want to ensure they remain healthy enough to spend quality time with their kids. Keeping this at the forefront can help them reach their long-term goals.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Veterans surf their way to recovery

Michael Fumarola didn’t see the rush of ocean as he sped toward the beach and toppled from his surfboard. He face-planted in the wet, goopy sand and gulped the salty water.

Red-faced and gasping for a quick breath, the blind veteran with multiple sclerosis from the Cincinnati VA Medical Center sucked in some San Diego air and couldn’t help but smile.

“That was great!” he yelled.

His instructor, Felipe Rueff, slapped his hands on both sides of his face.

“Atta boy! Do it again?”

“You betcha!”


Fumarola is one of more than 130 veterans from across the nation in San Diego, California, Sept. 15 to 20, 2019, for VA’s National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. The annual event, presented with the Wounded Warrior Project, brings amputee, paralyzed, blind, and other veterans to learn adaptive surfing, kayaking, sailing, hand cycling and more.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Michael Fumarola gives a high five after coming in from the surf.

(Photo by John Archiquette)

Empower and develop

“This is one of the highlights of VA’s commitment to veterans,” said Dave Tostenrude, acting director of the Summer Sports Clinic. “This is one of those events that reaches a broader range of vets.

“What we’re looking for are vets looking to make changes in their lives, and we don’t care where they come from or what their issues are, we’re going to work with them, we’re going to empower them and develop a plan to be active at home.”

Dana Cummings, a Marine Corps veteran who only learned to surf after he lost a leg in a car accident, brought his company, AmpSurf, to the clinic to give the veterans one-on-one training.

“Listen,” he told the veterans before they hit the water, “Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine. I tried this before I lost a leg and failed miserably, now I do it all the time. It’s going to be a lot of fun and you’re going to have a great time.”

Cummings went over the basics of surfing, then vets, instructors and volunteers hit the surf.

“Hell, yeah, let’s do it!” said Brandon Starkey, a veteran who lost his leg in a car crash 15 days after coming home from Iraq. “If someone says they can’t do this, I call them a liar, because the only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves.”

Fumarola was wheeled down to the surf in a special wheelchair with wide wheels, made to run over the wet sand.

“You think you’ll be able to do it?” someone asked.

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out,” he laughed. “I’ve never done it. But you gotta do it to find out. Someone doesn’t want to try it, that’s just B.S.”

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Bobby Hutchinson says coming to Summer Sports was part of his transformation to get out of the house, despite an amputation.

(Photo by John Archiquette)

First time for everything

A few feet down the beach, Bobby “Hutch” Hutchinson, who lost a leg in Desert Storm, was still able to get up on one knee as he rode the surf to the beach.

“Hey, I’m surfing, or trying to, anyway,” he said. “I got up on one knee, tried to get up and kind of wiped out, but I’m having a blast. There’s a first time for everything and here I am. I told some friends I was doing this and they said I’d better videotape it because they want to make fun of me.”

But for Hutchinson, from the St. Louis VA, it was about more than just a day at the beach.

“It’s about getting out of the house and having something to look forward to,” he said. “It gives you hope, you know? It gives you something to try, something different. It’s always good to try something new and color outside the box.”

It was also emotional for the instructors.

“I’ve been surfing for 47 years and teaching for 11,” Rueff said. “You see these guys drain the water, riding it all the way into the beach, it’s great. There is a healing power to the water. You can’t tell because I’m all wet, but I get really emotional.”

Fumarola said it was an experience he’ll never forget.

“I enjoyed the hell out of it. I learned I can do it. There ain’t nothing I can’t do. Life is great. Love it! Live it!”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

These sports icons served during the Battle of the Bulge

(Featured image courtesy of War History Online)

Sports, in large part, were halted when the U.S. military became involved in World War II. The Indy 500 was canceled to save gasoline, and the U.S. Open golf tournament was scrapped favoring resources in rubber, which typically made golf equipment. Several professional athletes, managers, owners, and even rules officials across many leagues enlisted, commissioned, or were drafted.



These sports icons sacrificed the prime of their careers for a cause bigger than themselves. On the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, we celebrate the lives of some of sports’ greatest stars who served during this time.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Courtesy of World Golf Hall of Fame)

Lloyd Mangrum

“I don’t suppose that any of the pro and amateur golfers who were combat soldiers, Marines, or sailors will soon be able to think of a three-putt green as of the really bad troubles in life,” Mangrum said when he returned from World War II. Mangrum was both a veteran of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Before he left for war to fight with General Patton’s Third Army, he made a pact with his friend, Sergeant Robert Green. Each ripped a id=”listicle-2641582160″ bill in half, vowing to each return it when the war ended. Green was killed in action, thus the pair never rekindled their promise.

Mangrum and his brother spent their childhood in the backyard where his thirst for competition began. “A small creek ran behind our house,” he told the NY Times. “My brother, Ray, and I built a crude green on the opposite bank and had [sic] pitching contests with a rustyblade old mashie somebody had discarded.” Soon he was a caddie learning how to approach the game through judgment. He took first place in the first US Open (1946) golf tournament since its hiatus during World War II. He became known as “Mr. Icicle” for his calmness on the links, which he credits how nothing on the golf course could rattle him like the battlefield.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Ralph Houk

Ralph Houk is not a name that is first mentioned when thinking of a New York Yankee, but he should be. His commanding officer, Caesar Flore, spoke of his battlefield fearlessness when he sent Houk out in a jeep to do reconnaissance on enemy scouting positions. He didn’t return until two nights later, and Flore listed him as ‘missing in action.’ “When he had returned, he had a three day growth of beard and hand grenades hanging all over him,” Flore said. “He was back of the enemy lines the entire time. I know he must’ve enjoyed himself. He had a hole in one side of his helmet, and a hole in the other where the bullet left. When I told him about his helmet he said, ‘I could have [sic] swore I heard a ricochet.'”

Houk rose from Private to Major in four years and earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, and a Purple Heart for when he was wounded in the calf during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he secured the back-up catcher’s position behind Yogi Berra and became a manager where players referred to him as “The Major” for his wartime discipline.
See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Courtesy of the New York Times.)

Gino Marchetti

Gino Marchetti was known primarily for two things: being a Hall of Fame defensive end for the Baltimore Colts and an entrepreneur who co-owned a restaurant called Gino’s with teammate Alan Ameche. Their influence was so great that members of the community, including New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, often muttered their slogan “Gino’s, oh yeah!” while they visited players at their favorite hamburger joint.

What most don’t know is that Gino Marchetti served as a machine gunner with Company I, 273rd Regiment of the 69th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. “You don’t realize that you are going to see some of your friends go down,” Marchetti told ESPN. “You don’t realize any of it. For example, the first time I ever saw snow, I slept in it. It’s hell.” Marchetti credits joining the Army as the greatest thing he had ever done because it gave him the discipline and toughness to compete in the NFL.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Nestor Chylak

Nestor Chylak’s career behind home plate almost never came to be. While serving as a Technical Sergeant in the US Army’s 424 Infantry Regiment, Chylak was severely wounded on January 3, 1945, in the Ardennes Forest. While his battalion braced artillery fire in the blistering cold and blanketed snow, an artillery shell exploded a tree, which sent splinters traveling the speed of bullets into his face. He was blind for ten days, but ultimately regained his eyesight. He was awarded both the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Chylak would go on to become one of the most legendary MLB Umpires in the history of the game. He was never one to cower to a feisty manager’s tirade, nor did he get flustered from loud boos from fans. He umpired baseball’s bizarre promotion games like the infamous “10-Cent Beer Night” promotion in Cleveland and Bob Veeck’s “Disco Demolition Night” in Detroit. Both promotions ended in similar flair — a forfeiture and a flying chair. Chylak, however, umpired for 25 years in five World Series and was respected for his fairness.

At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, a bronze plaque in the Umpire Exhibit says in his jest, “This must be the only job in America that everybody knows how to do better than the guy who’s doing it.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 3

Welcome to the Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 3, where we separated the overreactions from the underestimations. So pull up a seat and grab a pad and a pen, because this after action report will help you see through the settling dust and give your lineup hope in week 4.


The NFL leader in yards per route run (3.26), air yards (291) and target share (38%) is also one the best separators in the game. Keenan Allen is on his way to a career year, boys.pic.twitter.com/kev2Wqflnk

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Blue chip medal

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers- Ladies and gentlemen, the number one receiver in fantasy football. It’s not close. He has 87.7 fantasy points, and the next closest, Julio Jones, has 69.5. What more does Keenan Allen have to do to prove to fantasy owners that he’s a sure thing? He’s got an accurate quarterback who loves him. He’s insanely consistent. He can run routes, he can catch, he’s a red-zone target. He’s arguably the most reliable player in all of fantasy football and could very well win you your league.

Russel Wilson, QB, Seahawks- This preseason Bill Simmons went on the record saying this could “be the year that Russel Wilson ends up on the waiver wire come week 8.” Well, it’s week four, and Russel Wilson is the fourth-highest scoring fantasy QB. He still uses his legs to make plays. His team is playing from behind, so he’s forced to throw the ball constantly, jacking his usability numbers way up. He’s a plug and play.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins- Congratulations to Terry McLaurin for becoming We Are the Mighty’s first-ever Promotion Watch turned Blue Chip Medal winner. He is the fourth-highest scoring receiver in fantasy football. He is 110% bonafide the real deal.

Mark Ingram II, RB, Ravens– Mark Ingram keeps proving himself. He did it on the Saints last year, and he’s doing it this year, too. Even against a stout Chiefs defense—he put up RB1 numbers. Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability stretches defenses out and causes them to play deep and to the hash, leaving room for Ingram to gash teams for big-time gains. He’s an RB1 moving forward.
A touchdown was not scored by Baker Mayfield and the Browns on this playpic.twitter.com/qsOib4JL7e

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Loss of rank

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings- Well it’s week three and Diggs has six catches and 101 yards on the year. He is the 70th WR in fantasy football currently, and he couldn’t seem to make anything happen against an absolutely terrible Oakland secondary. Sound the alarm on Stefon Diggs. If you can trade him for 50 cents on the dollar—go buy yourself a couple of gumballs.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots- How many more opportunities do you give Sony Michel to prove that he is worthy of a RB2/Flex start? He has played against some of the worst competition in the NFL. Last week, after James White’s absence, he was the only solid weapon in the backfield—and he still put up meager numbers. As of now, he is running back 43 in fantasy scoring. The Pats offense is electric, but Michel doesn’t have the spark this year.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns- Baker Mayfield is perhaps the least worrisome of the Loss of Rank winners (losers?) this week. He can still make plays with his legs, he is surrounded by weapons, and he doesn’t have a difficult schedule. However, there are five big problems, and they’re all supposed to be blocking for him. Cleveland’s offensive line is so atrocious that Baker gets jumpy within a half-second of getting the snap. He’s moving out of the pocket prematurely (been there, buddy) and making short-armed throws. His fantasy value was grossly overestimated moving into the season.

OJ Howard, TE, Buccaneers- OJ Howard finally racked up a couple of catches. Then he fumbled. He has had an abysmal start. He has little to no red zone targets (which is what his supporters cite when continuing to start him). He was even called out by head coach Bruce Arians after week one. They say insanity is repeating the same action expecting a different result. So if you have OJ Howard and start him, yet again, in week 4— look forward to 13 more weeks of padded white walls, dixie cup meds, and goose eggs from your tight end.

DAWSON KNOX IS ABOUT THAT ACTION (via @BuffaloBills)pic.twitter.com/Stkmy0AtPd

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Promotion watch

Daniel Jones, QB, Giants- Giants fans rejoice—the Eli Manning era has finally reached its end. And boy oh boy was it a coming-out party for Daniel Jones. In a poetic display of how much younger he is than Manning, Jones picked up 28 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. He was lethal in the air too, finishing with 336 passing yards and two more touchdowns. He is surely worth a waiver wire look, even with Saquon Barkley’s injury.

Philip Lindsay, RB, Broncos- Well if you were anything like us, Philip Lindsay brought his A-game to your bench this week. After a fortnight of slumber, Lindsay was a man possessed in week three. He has racked up 26 fantasy points and was clearly the red zone favorite over workhorse partner Royce Freeman. Keep a very close eye on Lindsay moving into week four.

Dawson Knox, TE, Bills- The Bills are surprising everyone this year. They are the Bills, though, and will find a way to mess up this success. One undeniable bright spot that can’t be buffed out is rookie tight end Dawson Knox. He finished with 67 yards (including one monster 49-yard catch and run that was a finalist for Badass hit of the week medal) and a TD. If you’re in a deep league or strapped for tight ends, give Knox a waiver nod.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Bears- File Taylor Gabriel under the same “sleepy start” tab as Philip Lindsay. The ex-Falcons receiver had an insane Monday night finishing with three touchdowns. Trubisky looked a bit sharper, too, which bodes well for any Chicago pass catcher. This was against a shaky Redskins secondary, so this promotion watch should be met with cautious vigilance.

Here’s Jeff Heath’s hit on Allen Hurns. Looked bad, but Hurns was able to get up and walk off the field under his own power. #MIAvsDALpic.twitter.com/SWrPpnypJI

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Badass hit of the week

Jeff Heath

Well, our two-game streak of offensive lineman winning the Badass Hit of the Week Medal has come to a violent end. Jeff Heath’s hit on ex-cowboys-teammate Allen Hurns can only be described as attempted gridiron murder (although it does look like he was trying to play the ball and ended up decapitating Hurns unintentionally in the process). According to multiple sources, Heath actually texted Hurns after the game and said he “hated the outcome of the play” and was “thinking about him.” Damn. Us too, man.

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 ways to get a last-second ‘beach body’

If you want to look good without a shirt on, you need to sweat, eat clean, and lift weights over a long period of time. That’s sort of a no-brainer. If you want to look the way Dax Shepard, Ryan Hansen, and The Rock do on Instagram, though, you will also need a few tricks straight out of the movies. You see, celebrities and Instagram stars don’t actually look that good all the time. They prep their bodies for upcoming projects the way you prep your house before company comes over. (It’s not really that neat all the time, right?) So with a week to go before you and the family hit sand and surf, it’s time to change up your food, hydration, and exercise regimen to put the final touches on your look. Plus, a little baby oil can’t help to make the muscle you do have stand out. Here’s what you need to do to look good this coming weekend.


1. Drink up

It’s a myth that drinking too much liquid will make you look bloated. Actually, when your body sense dehydration, it responds by storing whatever water you do drink under the skin surface, creating a puffy look. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of H2O a day, and avoid caffeinated soda and coffee, which do cause fluid retention and increase the odds of bloating.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Joey Nicotra)

2. Get lubed

Baby oil will work. So will olive oil. Both nourish dry skin while adding an all-important sheen to your look. This is key because a shiny surface accentuates the ripples and bulges you’ve been building at the gym, while generously glossing over less-than-perfect areas.

3. Flex first

In the minutes after you do a weights workout, your biceps and pecs are filled with blood, pumping them up to size XL. If big is what you’re going for, hit the gym right before you hit the beach.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Arthur Edelman)

4. Wax your back

Yeah, it sounds sketchy. But a bear rug on your backside isn’t just unbecoming, it also disrupts your body’s symmetry and smooth lines, making you look shorter and wider than you really are. True, you could shave it off, but waxing looks better and lasts longer.

5. Hit the steam room

Did you know that the average race car driver sweats out 8 to 10 pounds during a race? While chronic dehydration can cause your body to store water in ways that make you look bloated (see above) a quick trip to the steam room or sauna will help you whittle your way down a size if you’re looking for an 11th-hour Hail Mary. Fifteen minutes is fine — too much steaming will make you feel dizzy and fatigued.

6. Hit those vanity muscles

With just seven days, now is not the time to focus on muscle-specific exercises. You want compound movements — workouts that load up several major muscle groups at once — to get the most mileage out of your sweat sessions. Five that get the job done (do three sets of 10 reps each, once a day): Burpees, lunges, pushups, pullups, and planks (skip the reps for planks and do three 60-second holds).

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

7. Eat protein, not carbs

In the long haul, skimping on carbs is stupid: They’re the primary source for workout energy and exactly what your body needs for a 3 PM pick-me-up. But in the short term, when you deplete your body’s store of carbs, you force it to burn fat for fuel, temporarily helping you lose more weight. Meanwhile, lean protein helps build lean muscle, so throw another T-bone on the grill.

8. Stand up

Your mama always told you to quit slouching, and evidence suggests when it comes to beach bodies, she was onto something. The straighter you stand, the taller you look, and the slimmer you appear. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades together as you walk.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Christopher Campbell)

9. Borrow some bronzer

You didn’t hear this from us, but using bronzing powder down the sides of your abs and along that V-shaped area from your hips to your privates, can give the illusion of sculpting where there is none. Just be sure to blend it with the surrounding skin so it doesn’t look like you’re headed to a Halloween costume party.

10. Skip the salt

Nothing makes your body hang onto excess water like too much sodium. While a little salt is good (it’s an electrolyte that helps regulate important organ functions), most of us eat way more than we should. This week, be extra-conscious of not adding salt to your breakfast eggs and dinner veggies.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

10 simple moves that will burn fat and build cardio

Stairs workouts are among the quickest, most accessible, and straightforward ways to get in shape, fast. No, you don’t need a gym’s stair climber to do them. Find some stairs, run, jump, and step up them, come down, and repeat — that’s all it takes to burn a ton of calories, and, if you keep it up, lose weight. It’s an effective workout for a number of reasons: For one, it’s a heart rate exercise that’s equivalent to a sprint-style running session. Second, stair work adds up. Research has shown that taking just 200 steps a day, five days a week for 8 weeks, can improve cardio fitness by almost 20 percent. An added bonus: it’s a leg day workout that puts a minimal impact on your joints.


The biggest downside to stair workouts is that they get, well, boring. The workout below aims to solve this. It features 10 moves to shake it up and is intended to be a 20-minute sweat session. The faster you do each sequence, the higher your heart rate and the more calories you will burn. But it’s more important to practice good form than it is to be fast: Keeping your back straight, shoulders back, and knees over toes as you climb will build strength in the right muscles so you’ll be stronger the next time you tackle a stairs routine.

1. Step ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Raise your right leg and place your right foot one the second step (skipping the first step). Push off the floor with your left foot and shift your weight onto your right as you step up. Swing your left leg in front of you, bending your left knee, while swinging your right arm forward for counter balance. Step back down to start position. Perform 10 step-ups with your right leg, then switch sides. Do 3 sets total.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Bruno Nascimento)

2. Mini box jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Bend your knees and swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as spring off the ground and propel yourself onto the second step. Land on both feet. Jump back down using both feet. Do 10 jumps x 2 sets.

3. Fast feet

Starting at the base of the staircase, sprint to the top as fast as you can, moving your feet rapidly like a football drill. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs. That means if you only have a single flight to work with, you’ll sprint to the top, sprint back down, and repeat 5 times.

4. Triceps dips

Sit on the second step, knees bent, keeping feet on the floor below the stairs. Place hands at either side of your hips on the edge of the second step, palms facing forward. (Note: If you are tall, sit on the third step instead.) Slide your hips forward until your butt is off the step, using your arms to support your weight. Bend and straighten your arms, feeling the burn in your triceps. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

5. Incline lunges

Stand at the base of the staircase. Work your way to the top taking three steps at a time. Pause in the lunge position between each step, allowing maximum load on your front quad with every step. Do the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs, jogging back down to the start and repeating if you only have one flight to work with.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

6. Side jogger

Stand perpendicular to the staircase, right hip closest to the stairs. Bend right knee and step up onto the first step, bringing your left leg with you. Quickly step up onto the second step. Work your way to the top using your right side to propel you. At the top of the flight, work your way back down using your right side to lead you again. At the bottom, reverse and jog sideways up the stairs using your left side to lead the way. Jog back down left-side first. That’s one set. Repeat 3 times.

7. Incline clapping push-ups

Stand at the base of the staircase. Place hands on the third step, arms straight. Keeping your back straight and in line with your legs, bend elbows and lower chest to the stairs. Hold for a second, then explosively push off the stairs and clap your hands together before landing in the extended push up position. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

8. Backwards jog

Stand with your back to the base of the staircase. Using caution, walk up the stairs backward, engaging your glutes and hamstrings with every step. Note: This moves requires a bit of balance and coordination (more than you might think!). Use the side wall for support with one hand if needed. For those more advanced, try this exercise at a slow-jog pace. Complete the equivalent of 5 flights of stairs.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

9. Single-leg jumps

Stand at the base of the staircase. Shift weight onto your right leg, lifting left foot off the floor. Bend right knee, swing arms behind you, then swing them forward as you push off the floor and jump onto the first step with the right leg. Hop back down, keeping left foot off the floor. Complete 10 jumps on right side, then switch legs. (Note: Use side wall for balance as needed.) Do 2 sets total.

10. Decline push-ups

Squat facing away from the stairs and the base of the staircase. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and shift your weight forward so your arms arm supporting your body. Keeping hands on the floor, walk your feet backwards up the stairs behind you until they are on a step that allows you to create a straight line from your extended arms to your toes (probably the third step). Keeping your back and legs straight, bend your elbows and do a push up. Note: Decline push ups are hard and it’s normal that you can’t go as deep as you would on a flat surface.) Do 10 reps, 2 sets.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here are some tips to prevent ACFT injuries

Over the past year, a selected set of Army units have been piloting the new six-test Army Combat Fitness Test as the first phase of replacing the three-test Army Physical Fitness Test.

Used since 1980, the APFT includes the 2-mile run, push-up test, and sit-up test. The ACFT is an almost hour-long series of the six tests described in Table 1: the dead lift, the standing power throw, the hand-release push up, the sprint-drag-and-carry, the leg tuck hold, and the 2-mile run.

The ACFT is designed to better assess soldiers’ abilities to perform common tasks that reflect combat readiness. “It’s much more rigorous, but a better test,” agreed several members of the units testing the ACFT. Some studies are still underway, but transition to the ACFT is imminent:


The ACFT will be conducted by all soldiers Army-wide starting Oct. 1, 2019. Soldiers will also conduct the APFT as the official test of record during a one-year transition until Oct. 1, 2020. While some aspects of standards, training, and administration are being finalized, procedures and techniques are documented in Field Manual (FM) 7-22, Army Physical Readiness Training (PRT), 2012.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Capt. Jerritt Larson, executive officer, 401st Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait performs the “maximum deadlift” element of the new US Army Combat Fitness Test.

(Photo by Kevin Fleming, 401st AFSB Public Affairs)

The ACFT and associated training requires soldiers to use several parts of the body not previously addressed by the APFT. This supports a more holistic, balanced approach to Army physical readiness. While ACFT is intended to improve soldiers’ physical performance while reducing injuries long term, as with any new physical activity it comes with new injury risks.

Observations by Army experts suggest certain injuries that may be anticipated. While the Army is sending out ACFT trainers to every unit to help train soldiers, everyone should be aware of potential new problems and how to avoid them.

Why and how were new ACFT tests selected?

Leaders and soldiers alike have long expressed concerns that the APFT doesn’t adequately measure soldiers’ abilities to perform common required tasks important during deployment.

Not all aspects of the APFT are bad, however. Studies have demonstrated that the 2-mile run is an excellent way to test soldiers’ cardiorespiratory endurance, also known as aerobic fitness. Aerobic capacity is linked to performance of more military tasks than any other aspect of fitness.

“Aerobic capacity is the most important measure of a soldier’s fitness,” says Dr. Bruce Jones, a retired Army colonel and medical doctor with the U.S. Army Public Health Center. “And weight-bearing physical activities such as running or marching are inescapable routine military aerobic activities.” Jones also explains that “Poor run times are not only associated with poor performance, they are associated with higher risk of injury.” So the 2-mile run time is a reliable way to monitor both aerobic fitness and injury risk.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test.

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

The push-up test is also linked to key military tasks, and is a good measure of upper body muscle endurance. However, evidence did not support the value of using the sit-up test to measure military task performance.

An in-depth review of key fitness elements and their association with military tasks found that muscle strength and power are critical to military task performance. Agility and speed are also very important. The APFT does not measure these key fitness elements. The ACFT will now ensure soldiers’ combat readiness determinations include these additional fitness components.

What injury risks are associated with the ACFT?

Historically, the majority of soldiers’ injuries have occurred in the lower body, which includes the knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot and the lower back. Excessive physical training emphasis on distance running and long foot marches have been to blame.

“While lower body injuries may be reduced with more cross-training, they are expected to remain a primary concern,” explained Tyson Grier, an APHC kinesiologist. “Soldiers spend the majority of their time on their feet. Their lower body is constantly absorbing forces from carrying their body weight in addition to other loads.”

The Army updated its training doctrine to the physical readiness training program in 2012 to reduce lower body injuries. The PRT deemphasizes distance running and encourages a mix of training activities to promote strength, agility, balance, and power.

The PRT has been associated with a reduction of injuries in initial entry training. Army operational units have not shown comparable trends in injury reduction, however. Since the APFT has continued to be the test of record these units may not have fully embraced the PRT.

With the implementation of the ACFT, the Army will still monitor soldiers’ aerobic fitness with the 2-mile run, but training time will need to be devoted to a variety of other activities too. The new tests are not risk-free, but the goal is to slowly build up the body’s ability to perform activities than might cause soldiers injuries on the job. While this is to enhance physical performance, Army experts recognize that the training for and conduct of the ACFT could also increase risk of injuries to the upper body such as the back and spine, shoulder, and elbows.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Sgt. Traighe Rouse, 1-87IN, 1BCT10MTN, carries two 40 pound kettle bells during the A 250-Meter Sprint, Drag and Carry event of the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

(U.S. Army photo by SSG James Avery)

Some items used for the ACFT, such as the trap/hex bar for the deadlift, have been specifically selected to reduce injury risk. To avoid injuries caused by excessive weight lifts, the maximum weight for the deadlift was limited to 340 pounds, considered a moderate weight by serious lifter. Procedures are designed to avoid injury. For example, the grader must spot the soldier during leg tuck to reduce falling injury. A required warm up before the ACFT and a specific deadlift warm up period will reduce injuries. Despite these efforts, there will be a learning curve.

“A primary reason for injury resulting from the new test and training activities will be due to improper form and technique,” says Grier. “These are new activities to learn. It is very important that soldiers learn proper technique from the start, and avoid developing bad habits.”

“We also worry that “too much too soon” will cause injuries,” notes Maj. Timothy Benedict., Army physical therapist. “Some soldiers will start this training by lifting too much weight, conducting too many repetitions, or not allowing days of rest between sessions that stress specific muscles.”

While only future surveillance of soldiers’ injuries will be able to identify actual changes to the Army’s injury trends, a review of existing evidence suggests potential injury risks associated with the new tests and associated training. Table 1 highlights key injury concerns.

Some injuries associated with the ACFT will be sudden acute injuries. Acute injuries are usually associated with sudden sharp pain and typically require immediate medical attention. These include strains or tears in arm, shoulder, chest, or back muscles, torn knee ligaments, dislocated shoulders, herniated discs in the back, pinched nerves, or fractured bones (such as from falling during the leg tuck).

While these acute injuries can occur when soldiers are conducting military tasks or other personal activities, specific training activities may raise the risk. For example, studies of both professional and amateur and weightlifters and power lifters have indicated that use of extremely heavy weights during the dead-left is associated with lower back disc herniation and knee injuries. On the other hand, some rehabilitation studies have suggested that using lighter weights during the dead-lift may be useful to strengthen the back and knees.

An acute tear of fatigued muscles and tendons in the chest, arm, or shoulder during bench-pressing of heavy weights, such as a pectoralis major rupture, is another highly studied injury. This injury is almost uniquely associated with the bench press activity — only a couple past military cases were other causes (parachuting and push-up training). Though the bench press is not part of the ACFT, there is concern that soldiers may use this activity to train for the ACFT.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Pfc. Tony Garcia, an infantryman with 2nd platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pumps out pushups during a ranger physical fitness test.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Ford)

Injuries that develop gradually over time from over training are known as cumulative or overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur when a repeatedly used set of body tissues haven’t had adequate time to heal and rebuild. “Continuing to stress tissues already injured from improper or excessive use or weight will only make the condition worse,” warns Benedict.

While delayed muscle soreness can be a normal sign that muscles are rebuilding stronger, pain in a joint or bone is not normal. Pain associated with overuse injuries may dull during the activity, but can become more serious if use continues.

Overuse injuries to the lower body are the most common type of soldier injury. Overuse to joints in shoulders, elbows, as well as knees and spinal joints are concerns because of the new ACFT tests. A common shoulder overuse injury is a torn rotator cuff – though it can occur suddenly, tissues have often already been worn from excessive use. Other common overuse injuries include tendonitis, bursitis, and pain syndromes in the knee and the lower back. These injuries may lead to long term chronic or permanent tissue damage.

Why it matters

Though injuries will continue to be experienced by soldiers — most are preventable.

Injury can mean out of commission for some time — and can notably increase your chances of getting injured again. Or develop chronic life-long conditions as you get older.

Injuries critically impact individual, units, and Army performance. Injuries cost the Army billions of dollars annually for medical treatment, rehabilitation and re-training, medical disability, and reduced productivity from restricted duties, and attrition. Training-related musculoskeletal injuries are the leading reason for temporary medical non-deployment status.

What you can do

In order to optimize U.S. military performance, soldiers and Leaders must do their part to train smarter which includes avoiding injury.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So do what you can to avoid getting injured in the first place. Table 2 provides some general guidance. Using proper technique, slowly building up intensity and weight levels to acclimate your body, and allowing rest days between similar activities are the primary keys to minimizing your risk.

To minimize risk follow procedures as taught by Army ACFT trainers. Seek guidance from Army Fitness Centers, doctrine in FM 7-22, a certified trainer, such as a Master Fitness Trainer, and use a buddy system during training to be warned of poor form and for hands on help as a ‘spotter’ to ensure proper balance and range of motion.

And if you are injured? Stop activities at early signs of pain and seek medical advice. Taking a break from activities temporarily to let the tissues heal can minimize the likelihood of a more serious injury. An injured knee can require weeks or months of rehabilitation. A worn rotator cuff tear can mean surgery. Lower back pain can result in a long term health condition.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.