Do you check your body every shift like you check your equipment and rig? Here is a great way every first responder should begin their shift...
It is essential as a first responder that you check your gear and apparatus to make sure they are functioning properly. You also exercise all the equipment on your rigs to make sure they are ready to go when needed. But, do you do the same for your body and your muscles?
The fire service is very demanding on equipment and this includes your body and your joints. So, why don’t you warm up and stretch your body before a shift?
Think about it, your muscles need to be lubricated and prepped like the equipment on the rig. A proper warm-up and stretch performed routinely each shift and/or morning can greatly improve your performance throughout the day. This will also lead to a reduction in injuries, increases in energy and mood.
Pre-shift stretching and warm-up exercises reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries by improving muscular balance and posture, improving muscle coordination, and reducing fatigue. A proper warm-up at the beginning of your shift will switch on your body's small muscles and help your body react efficiently and not with injury.
The most effective morning warm-up routine.
Based on research and experience working with athletes including first responders, I found the most effective way to warm up for your shift is to perform dynamic warm-ups and then follow that with some static stretching and foam rolling. The combination is the most effective way to improve mobility for the day and your career. The exercises in this routine target the muscles of the hips, back, shoulders, and knees which are the areas that we as first responders are prone to injure.
Here are some guidelines to consider when performing this routine to begin your shift and/or day.
- Start with dynamic movements by performing 5 to 10 reps of each exercise. You will want to move into position and hold the stretch for only a few seconds then return to the starting position. Move from one movement to the next for at least one circuit. If you are very tight or sore, you may consider performing the routine “dynamically” twice.
- After completing the dynamic warm-up circuit, you can then perform each movement statically and hold the stretches for 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure you perform at least one dynamic circuit before performing static stretches.
- Always maintain good posture throughout any of the movements. Always try to keep your head and shoulders in proper alignment.
- Never “pain” through the movement and stretch. You want to find a point in the stretch that is “slightly” uncomfortable but never painful. If you start to experience pain in any movement…STOP.
- Do not hold your breath. Breath nice and easy and try to relax your body and muscles as you move through each exercise.
Exercise #1 Fullbody Chops
Exercise #2 Standing Knee Hugs
Exercise #3 Spiderman w/ rotation
Perform this circuit 1-3 times.
Get into the habit of warming up before each shift (and/or every day). I guarantee you will see and feel the difference.
Let me know what I can do to help you and your crew get FRF (fire rescue fit).