One of my favorite forms of exercise is yoga. Often, I recommend that firefighters practice yoga and/or pilates. However, there are some moves or “poses” involved in yoga and pilates that aren’t good for firefighters.
Benefits of yoga/pilates to firefighters:
It’s pretty well established that firefighters need to have a really strong core, and both yoga and pilates are great for that. In case you didn’t know, these forms of exercise involve really challenging exercises for the core muscles (which includes the abs, obliques and low back muscles). That’s right, crunches have nothing on a “boat pose.”
A second huge advantage of both yoga and pilates is improved flexibility. I can attest, since I do hundreds of firefighter fitness tests yearly, that many firefighters could use a bit more flexibility. Improved flexibility can result in fewer aches and pains and potentially reduce injury risk for firefighters.
Lastly, yoga promotes relaxation. I highly recommend that firefighters engage in some form of stress relief, yoga included, to maintain good mental health. There are even some classes, often called “restorative” or “meditative” yoga, that have a focus on relaxation (and stretching.)
Moves in yoga/pilates that firefighters should avoid:
Like I said, I love yoga, but there are some moves that place a lot of stress on the spine, which I avoid myself. Firefighters should also avoid these moves, since the job itself places high amounts of stress on the spine and ultimately results in tons of back injuries and back pain. So, anything that involves spinal hyperextension (the spine bending backward) and extreme flexion (bringing the toes overhead while lying down) should be avoided. If you are familiar with yoga poses, this means avoid the “cobra,” “upward dog,” “camel,” and “plow” (shown below).
Have you tried yoga or pilates? If so, what has been your experience? If not, what questions/hesitations do you have?
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