Over the past few months I’ve been talking about back injuries in firefighters. First I cleared up a few myths about back injuries. Then I went over exercises that firefighters should AVOID because they can progressively cause damage to the spine. Lastly, I’m going over some quick exercises you should be sure to include in your workout to avoid a back injury.
Today’s exercise is a hamstring stretch. But not just any hamstring stretch; one that stretches only the hamstring/gluteal muscles without overly stretching the back. Lack of flexibility in the hamstrings and glutes can contribute to back pain, which is very prevalent in the fire service. In my experience doing firefighter fitness testing, many of you have tight hamstrings!
Also, like I discussed in this post, firefighters who lack hamstring and hip flexibility may be at greater risk of experiencing a back injury since they are limited in their ability to maintain a neutral spine when lifting someone from an awkward position.
The “door stretch” pictured below is great because: 1) it does not overly stretch the back muscles. Excessive back flexibility is not advantageous for firefighters (more on that here); 2) you can completely relax. Having to hold your leg up may cause you to contract your muscles, which is counterproductive to the stretch.
Rest each leg up on opposite sides of a door frame for 30 seconds to 1 minute. For quicker gains in flexibility do 2-3 sets.
Other exercises in this series:
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