Recently I was contacted by the owner of one of my favorite yoga studios after she saw me in this news story and video about how I’m using my PhD to better the lives of our firefighters. And it got me thinking about how I wish more firefighters were willing to try out yoga because some of the very best exercises for firefighters are done in yoga!
Last year I wrote an article discussing the reasons why firefighters should do yoga including greater flexibility, core strength and muscular endurance. These results are great for anybody, but they’re ESPECIALLY beneficial for firefighters since being weak in these areas puts you at greater risk for injury. And then there’s the incredible relaxation and stress relief – another major need for firefighters. Doing yoga, even just every so often, has really improved my sleep and my ability to stay calm and focused.
The article also explains a few movements that may be perfectly fine for some people, but firefighters should avoid them. Today I want to follow that by explaining the 3 very best yoga exercises for firefighters.
If you’ve seen my back health class then you know the 8 exercises that I recommend firefighters do to avoid a back injury. Two of the exercises below are among the 8!
The 3 best yoga exercises for firefighters:
This exercise stretches primarily the hamstrings and shoulders. Firefighters are notoriously tight in these areas (sorry to generalize but I have done a gazillion firefighter fitness tests!) And lacking flexibility, especially in the hamstrings, likely puts you at greater risk for back injury since that limits your ability to maintain a neutral spine while lifting.
Planks are fantastic because they work the entire core (abdominals and back muscles) and your spine stays neutral, which is the best way to do your core exercises. Side planks are also phenomenal because they give the obliques a much needed workout without twisting, which can also be problematic for the spine (OK so maybe this is two exercises).
You can also do side planks on your knees
Bridges are great for keeping your posterior leg and hip muscles strong – super important for maintaining a healthy back and good form while lifting.
I think to some firefighters, suggesting yoga conjures up images of circus-like poses that involve excessive flexibility and balancing on your head. This is far from the truth for basic/level 1 yoga. If you’re hesitant or timid about trying yoga, check out all the positive comments from firefighters about it in this article.
Ps. I’m really proud of this news story about how I’m using my PhD to help firefighters. The 3-minute video is worth watching as it does such a great job of showing how important and effective my work with you all is!
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