Here are some EMS fitness tips provided by Fit Responder:
Food for Thought
The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes frequent challenges to making good food choices, and when fitness often become an afterthought. Let’s face it; food is deeply personal and tied to many of our holiday and family traditions. Some research suggests that the average American will consume up to 500 extra calories per day and gain 5-7 pounds between November and January.
Some simple and easy to follow tricks can help you keep the pounds off and, yes, you can still enjoy your favorite holiday foods. First, fill your plate with half the amount of food you would normally eat. This is by far the easiest way to control all the goodies you consume. Next, eat off a smaller plate - the less food you can fit on the plate means that you will automatically eat less. A benefit to eating off smaller plates is that you will be hungry later and it’s 100% O.K. to go back and have seconds. When at parties, eat veggies and fruits first, and then go back for the “other” stuff. The natural fiber in the fruits and veggies will fill you up so you have less room for the bad stuff. Another easy trick is to drink water with the meal; this will make you feel full quicker.
As all of us in EMS know, we tend to eat way too fast. When sitting down for the big meals, please slow down so that you do not over eat. It takes your stomach almost 12 minutes to tell your brain it’s full and an EMT can put down a LOT of food in 12 minutes.
One last trick is to move. Before that meal or the "office/station" party, get in a workout. Do some cardio or take a good long walk, maybe even hit the gym and knock out some intervals. This way you will have a calorie deficit and maybe the bad stuff won’t matter as much…but eat your greens first to be sure.
The Pain Barrier
One of the biggest barriers to fitness in EMS, other than call volume and fatigue, is pain. Studies point to an almost 65% unreported injury rate among EMS practitioners. That means that as a culture we ignore minor injuries and symptoms. As we ignore these symptoms, the body hangs onto these traumas and over time they begin to cause a constant, and often severe pain.
How many times have you decided to start exercising but your knee, back or hip hurt too much to continue? The barrier we see is that practitioners have never been given the tools to "self treat" and manage their own bodies. Athletes spend hours keeping themselves loose and mobile yet our injury rates are higher than theirs.
The key to any successful fitness program is to create a level of “MOSTABILITY.” Flexibility and mobility; flexibility of the muscles and mobility of the joints. If practitioners have proper mostability of the calf & ankle, hip flexors, hip/glutes and thoracic spine some pretty cool things happen.
1. Calf & Ankle: you are able to squat, kneel, lunge, stair climb and even enter and exit the truck better. This will enable the knee to take less strain.
2. Hip Flexors: When you have better hip flexor mobility your ab’s fire better which protects your back. Your lumbar spine takes less load and it even takes strain off the knees.
3. Hips & Glutes: We all have imbalances in the hips; one side is either tighter or weaker than the other. A 20% tightness on one side = a 60% greater chance of pain and injury on the tight side.
4. Thoracic spine: When your thoracic spine moves better and we are not in a constant forward head posture the neck, lower back and even your shoulders feel and move better.