SAN DIEGO (NBC) -- Marine Corps' boot camp has been known as the toughest of the armed services, at least as measured by the number of injuries.
In 2004 they had the highest number of lower leg stress fractures of any of the services.
In recent years, however, the Marine Corps has been successful in reducing these injuries, partly by hiring athletic trainers.
Recruit Christopher Cock credits the athletic trainers that helped him nurse a stress fracture.
"Those stress fractures can complete and fracture all the way through the bone if they're not caught quickly enough and then that involves surgery," says Sports Medicine program coordinator Melissa Mahoney.
Beyond surgery, a bad injury can mean a medical discharge.
Over the past four years the Marine Corps hired 27 athletic trainers to oversee entry-level training.
"What we're trying to do is help them stay in the fight per say, so they're not missing so much training time," says trainer Ernesto Vega.
Knowing the recruits helps detect signs of injury.
They also recommend changes to improve safety.
Since his injury was treated early, recruit cock is back on his way to becoming a Marine.
"This recruit is definitely motivated and wants to just work his hardest and get through it and push through it and graduate. As soon as possible," he says.
Efforts by the Marine Corps to improve safety, including hiring trainers, has brought the number of lower leg stress fractures at boot camp down as well.
They are now on par with the other services.