Bye to 5BX for Singapore Army servicemen, and hello to PX and fewer injuries
For decades, Singapore Army soldiers have done five basic exercises– jumping jacks, the high jumper, crunches, push-ups and running – as part of their morning routine to warm up their bodies.
But no longer, as the 5BX ritual has been replaced with stretching and strengthening drills meant to improve mobility and flexibility, as well as reduce common injuries faced by soldiers in the knees, ankles and back.
The change in exercise regimen is part of a recent review by the army to help soldiers train, sleep and eat better.
In place of 5BX are Prehabilitation Exercises (PX), approved for army-wide use since April after a successful trial in the Officer Cadet School (OCS) in 2018 and 2019.
Now, mountain climbers, forward lunges, alternate arm and leg raises, among other exercises, will form the new standard.
Each exercise is to be done for 30 seconds with a slow tempo.
Fitness training remains embedded in the larger training system, with PX playing a complementary role.
Fitness test results were comparable between the control group and the test group at OCS.
Yet, injury rates fell from 6.3 per cent in the control group that still engaged in the 5BX to 2.6 per cent in the 1,100-strong test group.
"The lower rate of musculoskeletal injuries also translated to better performance during military training, such as mission exercises and live firing," said Lieutenant-Colonel Chong Yi Tat, head of training and development at the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP).
PX is one of three prongs under the army's Strong Body Regime, an initiative aimed at reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing soldier performance.
Two hours' more rest time on any day from Tuesday to Thursday is also recommended for units with three or more strenuous activities, such as field training, in a week - albeit not for reservists.
Explained LTC Chong: "Given the short training cycle of one to two weeks a year, the passive recovery would not need to be given for ICT (in-camp training)."
First Warrant Officer Arivalagan Kottamuthu, a platoon commander at the Basic Military Training Centre, called PX a good initiative to prevent injury.
Observed the 49-year-old, who has served for 30 years: "It (5BX) makes (servicemen) tired, whereas for PX, they feel refreshed and awake for upcoming activities."
Lance Corporal Abdul Hadziq Abdull Hamid, an infantry trooper at the 5th Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment, said he finds PX has made strenuous route marches easier.
The 19-year-old added: " I find it easier now because PX actually starts up the body and stretches out the muscles to prevent muscle injury."