A year later, they soldier on

Published in the March 2004 issue of BioMechanics

By Jordana Bieze


Research by CPT Danny McMillian, DScPT, could change the way practitioners think about stretching as part of a pre-exercise warm-up. But practitioners will have to wait a while for the results of the next phase of McMillian's research, and the reason why should change the way you think about biomechanics research and about life in general.

In a study presented in February at the annual Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association, McMillian found that a dynamic warm-up protocol developed by the U.S. Army was associated with greater performance gains than a static stretching-based warm-up (see "Army protocol favors dynamic warm-up, no static stretching," page 11). McMillian had planned to be in Nashville to present his findings at the CSM meeting in person-his name underlined in the program as the designated presenter-but the Army had other ideas. So while other physical therapists took time away from their practices to hear coauthor LTC Josef H. Moore, PhD, present their findings, McMillian was halfway around the world, facing a very different kind of therapeutic challenge.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and although our military involvement in that country no longer preoccupies the thoughts of the average American the way it once did, practitioners in the biomechanics mainstream continue to be touched by the war in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. In three days of platform presentations at the APTA-CSM meeting, I counted at least four instances where those originally scheduled to present papers were not in attendance because they had been deployed. And that was just one meeting of one specialty. I'm sure that at every conference attended by every one of you, presenters wearing uniforms instead of suits have been conspicuous by their absence.

It's sobering, really, to consider how much biomechanics-related research is generated by those whose primary responsibility is to defend our country. After so many years of relative peace, it's easy to forget that the controlled military environment that is so ideal for research, particularly on topics relevant to young adult athletes, is actually in place for a very different purpose. It's easy to forget that funding for such studies may not be as readily available in wartime as it has been in decades past. And it's easy to forget that the researchers themselves are soldiers first.

Maybe the war in Iraq will start the research pendulum swinging in the other direction, and the biomechanics mainstream will find a way to become less dependent on military researchers and military dollars for scientific studies and statistical analyses to support their clinical decisions. Or maybe our involvement in Iraq will reach a peaceful end and we can go back to taking military research for granted. But something tells me neither of those things will be happening any time soon.

Danny McMillian's research on dynamic warm-up protocols is still in its early stages. The next step, according to Moore, will be to look at whether use of a dynamic warm-up has any effect on injury rates compared to a static warm-up. But don't expect those findings to be presented at next year's CSM meeting. That study will have to wait until McMillian returns from Iraq.

If he returns from Iraq.


Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239