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    KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

    Concussions: Prevention, Treatment, and How To Keep Living The SOFLETE Lifestyle

    The SOFLETE life is real.  We live it daily and are constantly pushing the limits of our own capabilities.  That standard of performance is accompanied by risk, we we gladly embrace, because the reward of pushing past limitations is so great.  Often, our efforts are successful. But sometimes we fail, and sometimes we get thrashed. Hard. That’s what this series of articles will address.  Topic numero uno: Concussion/Traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

    If you’re reading this, chances are half the people in your life (including yourself) have gotten rapped hard on the head from an IED blast, thrown off a dirtbike, walked drunkenly into a pole, or have faced off against the biggest guy in the platoon with a pugil stick.  In addition, if you really are embracing the Die Living lifestyle, you’re pretty much always at risk of a blow to the head on any given day.  We’ve all been knocked the fuck out at some point. And yes, the horror stories of what it can do to your brain and the side effects are out there. 

    So lets start with the front line of what we can do to help ourselves since we know the VA will take 12 years to give us Motrin. There is research coming out about over the counter supplements.  It’s promising.  Here’s the rundown.

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    THE LONG GAME

    The mission of the Ranger Regiment changed dramatically during my time there. Each change was accompanied by different tactical and physical requirements. Despite these changes, the basic physical fitness foundation was never lost. That foundation is arguably what brought the Regiment to where it stands today. My own physical preparedness mirrored this constant progression, grounded firmly in a mastery of the basics. I will admit that I was never the best at anything when it came to PT. I walked among Giants - guys that played NCAA Division I or professional sports were not an oddity in the Ranger Battalion. But what I lacked in extraordinary fitness I made up for in two areas: consistency and grit. 

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    AN ANSWER TO THE AGE OLD QUESTION: BOOT SELECTION FOR REAL SELECTION

    Two US soldiers are hoisted by a UH60 Blackhawk helicopter during aerial lift boot sole inspection.

    PROGRAMMING FOR COMBAT

    It would be great to always have access to a completely outfitted facility when training, but some of us don’t have that luxury. Whether we’re training in our garage, our unit doesn’t have certain equipment, or more importantly, we are forward deployed - there will always be equipment limitations.

    When you’re deployed, there’s a finite amount of space for workout gear to go in a flyaway kit. Mission essential gear gets priority. It would be great if we could throw a GHD, a rower, an airdyne, a mile track, and a rig into the flyaway kit. However, that’s never the case. I’ve never seen any of that awesome shit that you can find in a top quality gym on a patrol base. What I have seen is a pile of weights in the mud and a piece of wood to squat on. I know that there have been times that guys had to fight tooth and nail to get a $200 squat stand out of their unit or into the kit.

    Those guys are an important part of our community. A community that you join when you chose to become part of the SOFLETE Team. When we write our programming, it’s essential to us that the guy that’s forward deployed, making due with what he has and getting creative with his equipment, continues to be able to train with the team. That guy is getting innovative. Making sandbags and medicine balls out of seabags. He’s throwing the heaviest shit he can find into a ruck and using that for back squats.

    There was a time when I crowned myself King Of Ghetto Rigging Equipment. Two resistance bands suspended from a bar with another bar to hold onto became a field expedient lat pulldown machine. I’ve run 10m shuttle runs in an Afghan compound until they added up to 800m. It was just me getting innovative and making due with what I had. I know that there are guys out there doing the same thing right now.

    This doesn’t mean that you should only use self-made equipment of course. Nothing can truly ever replace picking up a barbell.  Hopefully you have one available, even if it’s a metal pipe with concrete blocks on the ends. Working the big lifts like the squat, deadlift, press, power clean, and bench in your maximal/sub-maximal strength are incredibly important. This should be in addition to hitting a lot of body weight training, picking up heavy shit and carrying it, putting it back down and picking it up again. This is how you will be training your body as a whole.

    This is why we program the way we do. We program for that dude going at it in his garage by himself or with a buddy. For the young go-hard who wants to do what many can’t or simply won’t. For the guy who wants to be advantageous to his team. But most importantly, we program for the guy who’s deployed and is standing on a piece of plywood, having two teammates hold up the bar while he gets under it to squat. That is the essence of SOFLETE.

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