Any plan to conduct a road march to improve physical fitness should consider the following: •Load to be carried. •Discipline and supervision. •Distance to be marched. •Route reconnaissance. •Time allotted for movement. •Water stops.
•Intensity of the march. •Provisions for injuries. •Terrain an weather conditions. •Safety precautions.
Soldiers should usually receive advance notice before going on a march. This helps morale and gives them time to prepare. The leader should choose an experienced soldier as a pacesetter to lead the march. The pacesetter should carry the same load as the other soldiers and should be of medium height to ensure normal strides. The normal stride for a foot march, according to FM 21-18, is 30 inches. This stride, and a cadence of 106 steps per minute, results in a speed of 4.8 kilometers per hour (kph). When a 10-minute rest is taken each hour, a net speed of 4 kph results.
The pacesetter should keep in mind that ground slope and footing affect stride length. For example, the length decreases when soldiers march up hills or down steep slopes. Normal stride and cadence are maintained easily on moderate, gently rolling terrain unless the footing is muddy, slippery, or rough.
Personal hygiene is important in preventing unnecessary injuries. Before the march, soldiers should cut their toenails short and square them
off, wash and dry their feet, and lightly apply foot powder. They should wear clean, dry socks that fit well and have no holes. Each soldier should take one or more extra pair of socks depending on the length of the march. Soldiers who have had problems with blisters should apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly over susceptible areas. Leaders should check soldiers' boots before the march to make sure that they fit well, are broken in and in good repair, with heels that are even and not worn down.
During halts soldiers should lie down and elevate their feet. If time permits, they should massage their feet, apply powder, and change socks. Stretching for a few minutes before resuming the march may relieve cramps and soreness and help prepare the muscles to continue exercising. To help prevent lower back strain, soldiers should help each other reposition the rucksacks and other loads following rest stops. Soldiers can relieve swollen feet by slightly loosening the laces across their arches.
After marches, soldiers should again care for their feet, wash and dry their socks, and dry their boots.
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