With the new year underway, many folks are coming off of time away from their everyday, focusing on new habits; fresh goals to tackle for the quarter and/or year. Oftentimes these goals are substantial and require smaller, more frequent habit changes to achieve. The smallest of which are daily habits. What are you going to do on a daily basis to affect your quarterly and annual outcomes? This mentality requires a certain level of urgency in order to reach the larger, strategic initiatives further down the road. The physical health of your organization is no different.
Military and sports organizations continue to suffer large losses of individuals’ availability to work due to musculoskeletal injuries. These are large problems that are generally a chronic accumulation of specific stresses due to the individual’s activities and/or specific movement pattern, rarely with an acute or traumatic cause. So, the situation begs, what is your daily urgency to identify these habits and activities at the individual level?
We often see activity measured by volume, the number of hours or miles for a long ruck, or perhaps GPS distances run on the field by athletes. This is an example of an external load. External load represents all the training modalities imposed on the individual. It has been traditionally measured by sets and reps, duration, distance, etc. What is commonly skipped is the individual’s internal load, how that specific person responds to the external load. A 20-mile ruck is going to affect individual members of the unit differently; different cardiovascular response (heart rate), varied biomechanical patterns (FPML™), and different emotional perceptions (RPE). So it is critical to pair both external and internal load as a way to measure the stress of activities and the stress of the individual. (balance or jump on a force plate).
Due to outdated processes of hardware & data processing, the industry has been conditioned to measure things periodically; monthly, quarterly, sometimes even annually. There has to be urgency to measure more frequently for movement health (as discussed previously with leading KPIs). We can’t wait any longer. The longer we wait, the more these seemingly small, everyday habits are being more ingrained…for the organization and the individual.
Because of these outdated processes, individuals are no longer waiting to receive health recommendations from scientists doing backroom analysis of data sets. They are actively choosing to pursue their own path with urgency, with or without organizations. One example is professional baseball pitchers using their own biomechanics devices to track & monitor their mechanics in a bullpen. Another example is the explosion of consumer-based wearables, which is feeding data to individuals to make their own decisions without the organization even knowing about it. The movement data organizations choose to deploy should empower warfighters and athletes with the tools they need to improve and bolster their team or squadron, not leave them waiting for answers, ultimately causing them to choose their own path. What good is a team goal if everyone’s habits are causing them to move in separate directions?
Your organization’s urgency should not be a question; it should be a statement. Are you urgent to adopt technology to identify injury risk, or are you urgent to expedite habit adoption by the individual and align their individual goals with the organizations?