Saturday, March 29, 2008

Los Angeles LODD

Los Angeles firefighter Brent A. Lovrein was killed and Engineer Anthony J. Guzman, was being treated at UCLA Medical Center for a fractured arm and broken ankle, wednesday afternoon in an explosion that rocked a Westchester business district as rescuers were investigating reports of earlier blasts and smoke pouring from buildings.

Lovrein, 35, was blown back and possibly hit by building material when an electrical vault blew apart, ripping a gaping hole in an office building at Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards.

Rest in peace Brent.

Anthony, Godspeed in your recovery. Here's hoping you'll be back on the rig soon.

Be Safe

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stop the Sit-ups and Save Your Back

When I see someone with back pain I always ask them what kind of routine they are following, and a lot of the times I hear, ‘'I usually do 100 sit-ups in the morning”

Sit-ups are not the right thing to do for lower back pain. It is easily in the top ten of the worst exercises for lower back pain and it’s the worst possible thing you could do for the back first thing in the morning.

Discs in the spine are hydrophilic, which means they suck up water while you sleep and when there are no stresses present.

After rising, hydrostatic stresses of just walking around and using the muscles during the day compress your spine and the fluid is squeezed out, decreasing tensions in the disc.

So, when you wake up the extra height in the discs are like a full water balloon ready to burst and if you bend, you build up much higher stresses in the disc. In fact, the stresses are three times higher than when you perform the same bend two or three hours later.

Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, studied the effects of selected exercises on the lower back muscle activity and spine pressure levels. Sit-ups were one of the exercises Dr. McGill and his colleagues analyzed. What they found was that sit-ups generated approximately 3500 Newton’s of pressure or roughly 786 pounds of force.

According to Dr. McGill and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety) pressures above 3300 Newton’s correlates with more lower back injuries.

Well, what if you bend your knees when you do sit-ups? Sorry, the bent-knee sit-up is second on the list for elevated spine pressures coming in at 3350 Newton’s. Still very high and a potential cause of lower back injuries.

Instead of sit-ups, do a modified curl-up to achieve the same if not more co-contraction of the abdominals, oblique and rectus abdominus.

Here’s how to perform it.

To begin the hands or a rolled towel are placed under the lumbar spine to preserve a neutral spine posture. Do not flatten the back to the floor. Flattening the back flexes the lumbar spine, violates the neutral spine principle and increases the loads on the disc and ligaments.

One knee is flexed but the other leg is straight to lock the pelvis-lumbar
spine and minimize the loss of a neutral lumbar posture.

The curl-up is performed by raising the head and the upper shoulders off the floor. The motion takes place in the thoracic spine – not the lumbar or cervical region.

Once you raise the head and shoulders off the floor, hold that posture for 7- 8 seconds, do not hold your breath but breath deeply.

Alternate the bent leg (right to left) midway through the repetitions.

The removal of sit-ups and the addition of a curl up to your exercise program will ensure a long healthy relationship with your lower back.

Be safe

p.s. Sorry for the grainy video, and the horrible carpet and drapes. This guy needs a design makeover... but his technique is good.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kettlebells for Firefighting

How do I incorporate kettlebells in my firefighter training?

I’m going to assume that you mean that you’re training to be a better firefighter and not just doing specific firefighter exercises.

The kettlebell is a traditional Russian cast iron weight looking somewhat like a cannonball with a handle. A favorite tool of the strongmen of old, the kettlebell has enjoyed a revival of late because they are very versatile.

There are literally hundreds of different movements you can do with them. They are also very compact, great for travel, indestructible and relatively inexpensive. You can spend a couple of hundred bucks on a few kettlebells and get a lot more for your money than if you spend twice as much on a treadmill or elliptical machine, or even a barbell set.

There is no inherent magic to the kettlebell. The trick lies in the training methods and the kettlebell is, in my opinion, at the top of the list of tools for teaching people how to move their bodies in a strong and meaningful way.

You can use them individually or as part of a routine. I like to incorporate them into intervals workouts, which would be great for firefighters.

Here’s a great routine for firefighters and all the Mixed Martial Artist, jujitsu guys and gals we have out there.

One minute round on a heavy bag (punches and kicks)
Ten KB swings
Complete 5-10 rounds

You can add it at the end of your regular routine, do it in place of a cardio day or as a stand-alone workout

Be Safe

Friday, March 7, 2008

How To Train Horizontally for $ 22.00

If you consider the basic movements we do during firefighting, you’ll notice that there is a significant amount of Horizontal forces occurring. I blogged about this back in December.

Most firefighter upper torso training is done sitting or lying, but when do you actually do that on the fire ground…exactly, NEVER!

Alot of firefighters don’t train standing, while pushing, pulling or pressing which causes the trunk to automatically stabilize. Instead they do a lot of their training sitting on machines.

Firefighters demonstrate poor integrated trunk stability, which ultimately leads to injury. I believe the reason is that most firefighters train muscles in isolation rather than in combination upper and lower trunk movements.

Doing so totally eliminates the lower torso and lumbo-pelvic-hip complex from being a part of the movement, which is unnatural, and not the way the body is designed to work.

You can certainly use things like a cable machine or pulley system like Free Motion equipment to train Horizontal forces however, most firehouses and garages don’t have the luxury of a cable or pulley system.

This is one of the reasons you should supplement your training with resistance bands.

For $22.00 you can get a resistance band that allows you to push, pull, and press both the lower and upper body in Horizontal directions which in turn does an outstanding job of integrating the trunk musculature.

So start training horizontal pushing, pulling and pressing and you will develop as a firefighter:

1. Greater total body stabilization
2. Rock solid core muscles
3. Better total body explosiveness and power
4. Better calorie expenditure due to multiple muscle activation
5. Less potential for Injury
6. Improved balance and coordination
7. Multidirectional dynamic flexibility and joint range of motion
8. Hip and pelvic strength and development
9. The ability to kick the red devil’s ass

Bottom line, to become functionally stronger you need to be incorporating
vertical, diagonal, and most importantly HORIZONTAL strength training as a firefighter and bands make it easy.

Here’s a resource for more info on resistance band training and routines.

Be Safe


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sled Dragging for Firefighters

Q: I’m currently doing interval training on a bike, but getting bored. Any suggestions on what else I can do besides biking and running?

A: I like using different protocols when doing interval training as I get bored quite easily also. For firefighters you can't beat sled dragging which is very job specific.

Sled dragging increases your GPP (General Physical Preparedness). The purpose behind GPP is to still get in cardiovascular shape, but to do so in a way that incorporates general physical strength and speed. Also, it's alot more fun than sitting on a bike.

You can get a sled here, or you can build a cheap one yourself.

Get a tire and put a sheet of wood in the bottom. Cut the wood to fit it into the tire,then put an P hook through the tire... fill the tire with cement. Attach a nylon rope to the P hook and loop it around a weight belt.

Here's some good sled info by the boyz at Diesel.

Happing Pulling!