Some people know exactly when it happened. They may have heard a pop in their shoulder, or felt like someone slapped them hard across the back of their leg. For others, it wasn’t a sudden snap that sidelined their workouts; it was just gradual overuse that caused joints or muscles to wear down and eventually start to fail.
No matter what or where it happens, firefighters are getting injured working out.
If you’ve injured yourself during a weight lifting workout, you first thought it “what did I do wrong” followed by some “expletives.” There is some irony getting injured in the weight room, especially as a fire rescue athlete. After all, your working out to avoid injuries (or at least you should be).
In today’s post I wanted to give you five easy ways to avoid injuries during your next workout. Please take note of these, they can may help prolong your career at least keep the Chiefs from having to fill out ‘injury” paperwork.
- Always perform an active warm-up before each workout. The active warm-up is the most important part of any workout and probably one of the most often skipped. I’m not talking about walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes either. To “actively” warm-up you need to move in all planes of motion and increase the blood flow to the deep muscles and tissues. For a great “active” warm-up click here.
- Use relatively light, controllable weights when introducing new exercises or resuming training after a layoff of two or more weeks. Always try to perform all exercises through a full range of motion. This is one of the common mistakes made (more so by men). If you can’t perform an exercise with good form and full range of motion, decrease the resistance and/or increase your flexibility. In addition, when resuming workouts after a lay off, use good judgement and ease back into higher intensity.
- Do not ignore pain in or around the joints. This sounds like a very obvious statement but human nature (at lease on the fire ground or weight room is to ignore pain and hope it goes away. Do not ignore pain, make note of it and deal with it! Often, you can adapt and change your training by using lighter weight with more repetitions or by using a different exercise but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it all together. Pain is the body’s way of telling you there is something wrong you should seek medical advice (from a trained professional) if pain persists or gets worse.
- Lift appropriate weights for your goal and level of fitness. The first part of that statement is to make sure you have a goal. As a fire rescue athlete (firefighter) your goal should be to improve performance….right? So, will lifting heavy weight transfer to improve performance on the fire ground? It may but it has to be done with some good workout planning. One of the biggest reasons for injury is choosing to improperly lift weight that is too heavy. Lifting max weight has a time and a place and you need to make sure your workout program has prepared you to lift heavier weights. The other question you need to ask is “why” are you lifting excessively heavy weights. I know that if your on the fire ground and are in a position where you have to press a lot of weight off your chest… you have more to worry about then “how much you bench.”
- Stop Exercising and Start Training. You read that correctly, stop exercising and start training. Exercise is physical activity performed for the effect it produces today — right now. Training is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term performance goal. Training involves along term approach to fitness where one workout builds on the next, all leading to a long-term goal. Exercising is doing a random workout of the day (WOD) that can potentially get you injured if you are not ready for it. Don’t just workout for the sake of it (although sometimes that is alright to do) but have a plan as to why your working out and how that workout will help you do your job. Here is a great post on the debate of exercising vs. training (click here).
No single action can prevent injuries from happening. But, we as fire rescue athletes need to take a step back from time to time and evaluate the “why” and “what” of our workouts. You should always asking yourself if your workouts and actions (or lack of actions) will help you perform on the fire and rescue ground?
I hope these 5 tips will help you prolong your career and keep you injury free. Please feel free to post in your station workout room, share, like and please comment with your thoughts.
Stay safe and Get FRF!
Fire Rescue Fitness is dedicated to getting firefighters, EMTs and medics “fit for duty.” This includes reducing injuries and educating fire rescue athletes to improve their fitness. Each one of the FRF workouts are guaranteed to get you stronger, leaner and moving better on the fire ground. Take a look at the results other Fire Rescue Athletes are getting with the FRF Ultimate Fire Rescue Workout…
“I happened to be on Facebook one day and Fire Rescue Fitness popped up in my news feed, I followed the link and found a wall full of different workouts. I followed the page and began trying anything new that was posted. I then saw “The Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete” program and after doing some reading about it I was hooked.
I started the challenge on January 1, 2016 at 118 lbs. I am now 121 lbs. The numbers don’t really speak volumes compared to my success in my appearance and my abilities. My biceps gained one inch of muscle, which I really notice when I raise my arms to put my hair into a pony tail. My abdomen muscles are more defined now, than ever before. When I first started I was able to run 5 km in 38 minutes and now I can run it in 32 minutes.
I really enjoyed the combination exercises; these are nothing like I have ever done before. I notice my endurance in just walking up large sets of stairs is no problem (even when carrying heavy things). I don’t notice the extra weight of my gear and carrying a pack on my back to be a big deal anymore. I also can work harder and longer before losing my breath and feeling fatigued. This workout changed my life, I look forward to doing it again with alternative movements, I won’t be caught exercising anymore because I now know that training is what I would rather be doing always changing, always improving. “
Thanks Aaron and FRF! –Lisa Charbonneau
Take a look at the results Doug Franklin achieved using the FRF Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete Workout..
“Last summer, at the age of 43, while training for my fourth marathon I experience pain in my knee that sidelined me. After visiting the with my doctor I was told that I no longer had a meniscus in my right knee and that arthritis was so severe that I needed to stop running. This was tough for me to handle. First, the pain was an issue. Second how was I going to stay fit for duty? Running, at the level that I was running burnt a lot of calories. Not running at all caused me to put on weight as well. I saw my weight climb to almost 200 lbs in just a few months.
I came across the Ultimate Fire Athlete Workout and thought I would give it a try. I began the program on January 11th at 198 lbs. I had a 34 in waist. I just finished the 12 week program and I am now 170 lbs and have a 30 in. waist! 28 lbs weight loss and 4 inches!
I am in as good a shape as I ever was while running marathons and have added muscle in my arms, chest and abs that running never gave me. I have gained the strength and core balance that I need to do my job as a firefighter as well restored my cardiovascular fitness level.
I would also add that my knee is feeling wonderful. I did most of my cardio days on a bike or elliptical, I am able to do the sprint challenges and all of the overhauls no problem. The workout worked well for and with my knee pain issues. It also worked great with my schedule. I could get in and out and was also able to work it in while on shift.”
Thanks Aaron for an Awesome Program! –Doug Franklin