A 15-minute routine to take better care of your body

These two tasks are simple enough for even your busiest day

Updated June 1, 2014

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

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.

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.

Drink a bottle of water: 5 minutes

Dehydration is a major factor in many soft tissue injuries, and many of us 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.

Get moving: 10 minutes

Maintaining 'street' fitness can be as simple as 10 minutes of targeted exercise, twice a 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 carry over to both fitness and injury prevention.

Less than 15 minutes a day is all it takes to integrate simple and effective self-care techniques into your routine. The more consistent we can be at practicing these simple approaches, 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, 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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