In the first article in this series, I cleared up some myths about stretching including when firefighters should not stretch and when they should. Next I explained which stretches firefighters should NOT do.
When Firefighters are to Stretch and What to Do
In this article and the next one, I’m going to show you the best stretches for firefighters to gain adequate flexibility in their hamstrings, hips and shoulders. Those areas are commonly very tight among firefighters which can increase risk for pain and injury.
The best way to decrease your risk for back injury on the job is to be able to lift patients/equipment (most back injuries occur during lifting) with a neutral spine. That means your back is not twisted, flexed or hyper-extended (bent forward or backward). What does this have to do with flexibility?
The biggest culprit for having to break from a neutral spine is tight hamstrings.
Tight hamstrings and hips force you to flex your low back when you’re lifting, which places your back in the very worst position for risk of suffering a back injury.
The Best Ways to Stretch your Hamstrings for Firefighters
The best ways to stretch your hamstrings are shown below. Both of these keep your spine in a neutral position during the stretch. If you want to be completely relaxed, choose the door stretch.
I do not recommend a stretch in which you pull on your leg or wrap something around the foot and pull while lying down. You need to be able to be completely relaxed and have a straight knee, which you can’t do if you’re trying to pull on your leg.
Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, for a minimum of 2 reps.
The next article in this series will explain a few more great stretches for firefighters to avoid injury.
Click the links below to read the previous articles in this series:
Photo Courtesy Karlie Moore