As we get older, our muscles tighten and the range of motion in the joints can be minimized. As a firefighter, this can cause problems with the requirements of lifting, climbing and other job related tasks. Tasks that used to be easy to us, such as zipping up a flight of steps or reaching for a crosslay, have now become extremely difficult. A regular stretching program can help keep our muscles loose and help to prevent injury and soreness after a busy shift.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you need to stretch. Everyone can benefit by stretching whether you realize it or not. Stretching should be one of the first things you do in the morning, and several times a day. There are simple stretches you can do while watching TV, on the computer, or getting ready for bed. If you are doing strength training exercises, stretch in between sets. It feels good and saves time from stretching at the end of the workout! Here is a video of the top six stretching exercises to get you started.
Stretching does not have to involve a huge time commitment, but it can end up giving you huge results! Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from a regular stretching program:
- Reduced muscle tension and soreness
- Increased range of movement in the joints
- Enhanced muscular coordination
- Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
- Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
While there are many benefits to stretching, one of the best benefits is that you’re able to increase your range of motion, which means your limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Post-exercise stretching can also aid in workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and ensure that your muscles and tendons are in good working order. The more conditioned your muscles and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they’ll become injured.
Stretching comes naturally to all of us. You might notice that if you have been sitting in a particular position for a long time, you stretch unconsciously. It feels good! In addition to that good feeling, a consistent stretching program will produce large gains in flexibility and joint movement. Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you!
Here are some of the better and more recommended firefighter health and workout books that we can recommend: