Injury risk in specific body regions is associated with performance in the Army basic fitness assessment in Army staff cadets

Jeremy Witchalls, Cameron McDonald, Alice Richardson, Phil Newman

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstractpeer-review


Introduction: The Army has a high incidence of musculoskeletal injury, with up to 81% of injuries occurring at or below the knee. Fitness testing using the Basic Fitness Assessment (BFA) provides data that may be suitable to screen for injury risk. The aim of this investigation was to assess the association between standard BFA tests, and injury risk to anatomical sites in military cadets. Methods: This retrospective cohort study analysed physical fitness and musculoskeletal injury data from Staff Cadets (SCDTs) in the Australian Army, between 2008 and 2014. BFA physical fitness tests included the 2.4 km run, push-ups and sit-ups. These test results were collated with the injury incidence across knee, ankle, back and shoulder during the 6 months after testing. A classification tree was used to assess the association between the tests and SCDTs’ injury risk, and to establish clear cut-off points for command decisions over injury risk.Results: 1839 records of BFA tests were collated. 279 injuries were recorded, including 52 knee, 94 ankle, 33 back and 43 shoulder injuries. Classification tree analysis demonstrated a significant division of knee injury rate, based entirely on running performance. SCDTs were least likely to injure if they had 2.4 km run times faster than 9′47″, and most likely if they ran slower than 12′18″ (risk ratio 24.5:1). Push-up and sit-up performance was not associated with the SCDTs’ knee injury risk. The ankle showed higher injury rates associated with a slower run time, with the slowest runners (≤11′15″) having a risk ratio of 8.3:1 compared to the fastest group (≥10′17″). The mid-performing running group were further separated, with higher injury risk associated with lower performance in sit-ups (<100) (risk ratio 7.9:1), and further by higher performance in push-ups (<42) (risk ratio 2.1:1). Classification tree analysis demonstrated no association between BFA test performance and injuries of the back or the shoulder.Conclusion: This study has identified that different injury rates are associated with BFA performance. This illustrates the value of the running test to classify SCDT injury risk, but also secondary classification using other tests to refine the injury risk assessment. The BFA is a common and simple test that is in routine use within the Australian Army, and is ideally suited as an entry screen for injury risk, without adding to military workload. Future studies with greater sample sizes to enable separation of gender and body region injury risk profiles are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Event4th International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance - Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 20171 Dec 2017


Conference4th International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance
Abbreviated titleICSPP
Internet address


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