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Home > Topics > Health and Wellness
September 14, 2010
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First in Fitness
by Bryan Fass

Take better care of your body

Three simple ways to take care of yourself during even your busiest day

Take a look around the bay or base, and a theme emerges among your coworkers. The longer we are in the field, the less care we take of ourselves.

There are those outliers of course — those employees that stay fit and eat well, but the majority of public safety employees simply stop caring for themselves.

Sure we can point fingers and blame call volume, lack of equipment, time, fatigue, stress and money, but we can also make time to practice some self care techniques.

Sometimes simply changing how we think or accepting that change is OK will allow us the mental 'open door' to step through and try something new.

At the start of every shift we are required to check off our gear and vehicle — none of us would think of skipping this step. I challenge you to take five minutes and go through a few stretches using your vehicle as a stretching device as soon as you are done with your pre-shift check off.

Total time invested in self care: five minutes.

Dehydration is a major factor in many soft tissue injuries, and most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Soft tissue is mostly water so when we are dehydrated it effects how this tissue reacts to exertion. There are many studies confirming that hydrated tissue functions better and experiences less strain than tight/dry tissue.

Bring a big water bottle with you and drink the whole thing before heading home, and avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine beverages. Your bladder will get used to the increased fluid intake and a cool thing happens after a few weeks — you will begin to feel thirsty. That's our bodies way of making sure we stay hydrated.

Total time invested in self care: one minute to fill the bottle.

Maintaining 'street' fitness which is of incredible importance for a public safety employee can be as simple as ten minutes of targeted exercise, two times per day.

Street fitness requires anaerobic fitness, balance and agility or short duration movements that require some control and balance. Step ups on a chair or bench, stair walking, lunge walking in the bay, and body weight squats require no special equipment and can all be done in uniform. The movements are all integral to our job and have a direct carryover to both fitness and injury prevention.

Total time invested in self care: ten to twenty minutes.

Twenty-six minutes a day is all it takes to integrate simple and effective self care techniques into your day. The more consistent we can be at practicing these simple approaches to self care, the better chance we have of leading a healthy and productive career. Follow these tips and after a short time your body will feel better, move better and look better.

About the author

Bryan Fass is an expert on public safety injury prevention, patient and equipment handling ergonomics, fitness and wellness and a noted speaker and consultant. Bryan has authored four books including the Fit Responder. He works nationally with departments, corporations, state and local governments to design and run targeted injury prevention and wellness programs for public entities and private organizations. He is frequently contacted for expert opinion and content contribution for all aspects of public safety. Bryan holds a bachelor's degree in sports medicine, was a paramedic for more than eight years, and is certified as an Athletic Trainer & Strength Coach. He is the president and founder of the Fit Responder. Contact Bryan at bryan.fass@ems1.com.
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