Injury Prevention for Active Duty Personnel

 Injuries, Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention Overview

Last Updated: February 12, 2024
Skip Navigation LinksDCPH-A Home / Topics / Diseases & Conditions / Injury Prevention for Active Duty Personnel / Injuries, Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention Overview

Military Injury Definition: 

The damage or interruption to normal body tissue function resulting from an energy transfer that exceeds the threshold of tissue tolerance either in a single sudden event (acute trauma) or gradually from repetitive events (cumulative micro-trauma). Excessive energy can be transferred from sources that are mechanical, environmental (heat/cold/altitude), poisons (drugs/toxins/chemicals), radiation, or electrical, OR an energy transfer can be insufficient for normal tissue function (e.g., absence of heat or oxygen). ​Injuries do not include genetic, degenerative, mental, and pathogenic disease or conditions. Source:​ A Taxonomy of Injuries for Public Health Monitoring & ReportingExternal Link ​ ​

Injuries are the largest health problem of the U.S. military because: 

  • Almost 50% of military experience 1 or more injury each year.
  • Injuries result in 2,000,000 medical encounters annually across military Services.
  • Injuries require 90-120 or more days of restricted work or lost d​uty time.
  • Millions of dollars are lost annually due to the costs of injury ​treatment ​​​​and lost training. 

Most military injuries are musculoskeletal (MSK) cumulative microtrauma overuse strains, sprains, and stress fractures,  primarily to lower extremities (ankle/foot, knee/lower leg).​

  • More than half of these injuries are exercise or sports-related, especially running.
  • Back and shoulder injuries are also common, more often associated with lifting and carrying activities. 
  • Also see: ​​Techni​cal references.

​Injury Causes and Risk Factors

Factors affecting the risk of injury can be associated with the activity, the individual, and the environment.


Not all in​juries can be avoided, but many common injuries can be prevented. Reducing injuries is necessary to optimize fitness. Unit leaders should strive to reduce the overall rates at which injuries occur by practicing the following: