On-duty EMS fitness: Focusing on the legs

Training legs while on duty and in uniform is very effective, easy, quick and will reduce the chance of getting hurt


Moving patients, lifting from the ground and stepping in/out of the truck are a routine part of the day for every medic. However, most of us lack the leg and hip strength needed to safely and effectively do the job.

You sit for long periods of time, you treat your patients hunched over, you chart contorted over a computer and then sit in the truck to get back to the base.

You sit and compress forward for almost your entire shift, and that causes your hips and legs to get weak. Often, you may experience poor endurance in your legs — duly noted as your quads burn huffing up 4 flights of stairs to get to the patient.

Training legs while on duty and in uniform is very effective, easy, quick and will reduce the chance of getting hurt. The stronger your legs and particularly hips are the less your back has to work, and that reduces injury.

Body weight is the only tool you need to get started; simply follow the exercises in the video two times per week, waiting at least two days between sessions.

Form and control are more important than speed, so pay close attention to body position and technique. As I noted in the video, "root" the feet at ALL times; this is arguably the most important part of training legs properly as it turns the hips on and improves balance.

To make this workout burn additional fat, add in the abdominal training exercises between leg exercises for a core and leg workout that will help you feel good, look good and stay injury free.

About the author

Bryan Fass, ATC, LAT, CSCS, EMT-P (ret.), has dedicated over a decade to changing the culture of EMS from one of pain, injury, and disease to one of ergonomic excellence and provider wellness. He has leveraged his 15-year career in sports medicine, athletic training, spine rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and as a paramedic to become an expert on prehospital patient handling/equipment handling and fire-EMS fitness. His company, Fit Responder, works nationally with departments to reduce injuries and improve fitness for first responders. Contact Bryan at bryan.fass@ems1.com

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