tory and photos by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were chosen to participate in the Iron Horse Performance Optimization Program Oct. 12-Nov. 11.
The IHPO is a physical fitness, injury-prevention program aimed at decreasing the amount of injuries Soldiers obtain as well as helping them to strengthen their bodies so they do not injure themselves during deployment, said
Capt. Laura Bluemle, the physical therapist for 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
“(The) 2nd BCT was given a team of Department of Defense civilian contractors – two athletic trainers and two certified strength and conditioning specialists – to help improve Soldiers’ combat readiness by implementing effective and functional physical training programs, reducing overuse injuries during training, identifying and managing Soldiers with injuries early and shortening recovery time after injury,” she said. “We want to get Soldiers off profile as quickly as possible and not get injured again.”
It’s important to not take the prevention too far, Bluemle said.
“It is a real fine line to walk. You want to get a person in the best shape possible without breaking them. It is real easy to step over that line and once you break them, they fall way down and then you have some catching up to do,” she said.
Capt. Kay McKinnie, 4th Inf. Div. dietician, said, “2nd BCT was chosen to be the first brigade to implement IHPO because it was in an ideal spot. The brigade had just returned from deployment so our team had time with them here, and more importantly, the command really wanted it.”
McKinnie said the program is comprised of seven stations, each with a specific exercise a Soldier must perform and be graded on.
“The test was developed as a functional screen with different components of balance and movement” where people might have weaknesses and therefore are more prone to injury, said McKinnie.
She said Soldiers who score less than 14 as a composite score are at greater risk for injury.
At-risk Soldiers will be contacted and a private one-on-one consultation will be arranged to provide specific exercises to strengthen and prevent injuries.
As part of the training, two noncommissioned officers from each platoon in the brigade were selected to attend the four-day, train-the-trainer portion of the training, Sept. 27-30 and Oct. 4-7. The classes consisted of lectures and hands-on participation as well as the Building the Soldier Athlete Reconditioning Program and the Army’s new physical readiness training manual.