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 – totally counterproductive.
Luckily you can always work a muscle group in a way that is not overly stressful for the spine – one that places a healthy amount of force on the joints in your back – because you want to prepare your spine for your work but avoid hurting it in the process.
One of the best things firefighters can do to reduce their risk of back injury is to improve their back endurance. While it may seem conventional to go for really big, strong back muscles, spine researchers are recommending exercises that involve a lesser amount of weight (ie. body weight) and repetitions held over a longer period of time, when it comes to injury risk.
It’s always super important to work those back muscles in your workout for general core strength. So keep doing your seated/bent-over rows, lat pull downs, pull-ups, and the like. Now, to specifically reduce your risk of back injury, also incorporate the plank walk that I discussed last week and the quadruped described below.
Starting on all fours, engage your abs so your back is flat. Now raise one leg out behind you and hold. If you feel very steady, raise the opposing arm and balance. Hold for 5-10 seconds and switch sides; at least 5 repetitions on each side.
To do this exercise correctly, your back should not move. So, if you were to have a cup of water on your back while on all fours, it wouldn’t tip over when you raise your limbs. Again, this is accomplished by contracting your abdominals – as if you’re sucking a very thick ice cream shake through a straw.
Ok I want you to try it out and tell me what you think. Was it pretty easy or harder than it looks? Let us know in the comments.
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