It's shift day! You wake up early, jump in your vehicle for the morning commute to the hall. You’re excited to meet up with your crew and catch up over a cup of coffee. You walk through the door, bend over to grab your gear and wham, your lower back tightens up and you know that means trouble.
Lower back pain still contributes to over 50% of all line of duty injuries for firefighters. Which affects everything from lost work time, medical expenses, quality time with the family and in general is super frustrating.
This situation is far too common and also very preventable with some regular daily movement maintenance. General lower back injury prevention requires developing healthy mobility & flexibility along with stability & strength.
Let’s dive into phase 1 of our Fit by Fire Lower Back Injury Program to get you started towards your bomb proof back. When we look at injury prevention we are going to start with building a bomb proof back in two parts. The first has us working on creating mobile joints, functionally flexibly muscle and improving our posture with the Fundamental 3 Mobility Drills. Then we will tackle multi-dimensional torso toughness by including the Foundation 4 Core Exercises.
The Fundamental 3 Mobility Drills for LBP Injury Prevention are the: Samson, Spiderman Reach and the Downward Dog to Cobra stretches.
Each one of these amazing stretches can be done to improve the flexibility of the musculature around the hip and shoulders to take unnecessary stress off the lower back. Each of the three also works to improve toe-to-fingertip mobility across commonly critical firefighter related movement. Look to perform each for approximately 30-45 seconds. You can move through all three and then repeat for 2-3 rounds.
The Foundational 4 Core Exercises for LBP Injury Prevention include: Hip Bridges & Variations, Side Plank & Variations, Front Plank & Variations and Anti-Rotation Holds.
A big mistake many newbies make is to jump right into core exercises that are fancy or gimmicky. Everyone should be able to perform each one of these movements for over 60 seconds comfortably before jumping into more complex options.
If you are lucky to be able to perform this routine before shift great! If not just completing it 2-3x a week would be fine. This also could be done as an extended warm-up before your regular workout at the gym.
Once you feel you have conquered Phase 1, look to add other Fire specific mobility and strength exercises to your routine. Picking functional movements like squats, lifts, lunges, pressing and pulling patterns in all sorts of combinations will prepare you for a successful career and retirement.
Check out FitbyFire.com for more information on injury prevention and workouts for firefighters.