Degrees of safety risk come with every occupation, and as a firefighter, chances of suffering an injury are high. An injury can happen during training, on the fire-ground or when responding to an emergency medical situation. Facing dangerous situations comes with the job while you’re protecting a community. The NFPA reports that an estimated 58,250 yearly firefighter injuries occur as of December 2019.
Injuries occur frequently and can happen at any time. That's why choosing the right protective gear is so important! It’s time to focus on how to strengthen your body for demanding situations so you can be ready for anything 24/7. 🔥
Here are 4 ways to avoid injury on and off the fire-ground:
STRETCH IT OUT
Improve your mobility by adding in a few minutes of stretching every day. One of the best things about stretching is that is can be done anywhere! You will begin to feel a decrease in overall soreness and stiffness when you add it to your routine. This is also a great form of relaxation, which can positively affect your mindset. Stretching is important for any type of physical activity. Without it, muscles will shorten and become tight. Eventually, this puts you at risk for joint pain and muscle strains.
Try these common forms of stretching:
- Static stretches - These involve holding a position between 10 and 30 seconds. It is best to do these after a workout.
- Dynamic stretches - Active movements that involve your body to stretch, without holding a position. Do these movements before a workout to warm-up.
BUILD A ROCK-SOLID CORE
Your core is the foundation of your body. Building a strong base can improve your balance, stability, and back muscles. Not to mention, you may start looking like The Rock with continued training. 💪 In practice, having a strong core can help you lift a heavy object off a trapped person and save their life. Let’s say you sprain your back during a call and lose significant time to do your job and help your teammates. Well, completing each of these core building exercises will help build you a rock-solid foundation.
Go ahead and try these out for yourself to feel the difference:
- Side planks
- Side bend
- Jackknife crunch
- Bird Dogs
TRAIN LIKE YOU MEAN IT
Incorporating movements, you regularly use on the field, will also help prevent injury! Muscular strains, pain, and sprains account for 59 percent of all non-fire-ground injuries. These types of injuries also account for 38 percent of all fire ground incidences. To avoid serious muscular injury, incorporate a variety of training movements to challenge yourself.
Here are a few you can add to your next training:
- Slamming a medicine ball
- Pulling a rope
- Crawling across the floor
- Carrying a weighted bag or dumbbells
- Dragging a cart, weighted bag or heavy object
WHY GREAT POSTURE MATTERS
Having correct alignment works your core, and prevents shoulder and back injuries. It also prevents less stress on the neck, which also means decreased shoulder injuries. See why great posture matters? ✔️Correct posture should maintain the curves of your neck, mid-back, and lower back. When you’re wearing your helmet, your head is automatically pushed into a forward position. The muscles in your neck are constantly contracting to keep the head up, against gravity.
Here are a few tips to improve your posture:
- Keep your chin parallel to the floor
- Use a posture corrective vest when sitting
- Keep your abdominal muscles braced during a workout
- Do not arch your spine while standing and keep it neutral
- When seated, keep feet shoulder width apart and shoulders back
In the fire industry, you are taught to minimize risks. Unfortunately, injuries can range from minor to career-ending or debilitating. Injury prevention is a key part to your health and needs to be practiced every day. Start by incorporating these simple tasks so you can better serve your department and the community!