Bending Versus Breaking

Spring is officially here, and if you have been inside working out for most of the winter in the Northern states like I have, you cannot wait to get outside and change your training, scenery, and environment. Now that we have finished up the three-month...

Hamstring Stretch: While still sitting on your bunker coat, extend your left leg straight out and bring your right foot to your groin. You can then reach with your hands, use a towel, or rope. Using a towel or rope allows you to have a steady, even pull. Loop the rope around your foot (as shown in the picture) then slowly pull yourself, letting yourself bend in the lower back, while slowly pulling your head to or towards your knee. You should feel a stretch mainly in your hamstring, but also in your lower back and calf as well. Hold for 10-20 seconds, or hold for 10 seconds, then pull/stretch a little more for another 10-20 seconds and release. Then repeat for your other leg (see Photos 5 and 6).

Upper-Body Stretch: The upper body stretch works the entire upper body as well as the gluteus and thigh muscles. Kneel on your right knee with your left leg bent and foot flat on the ground. Extend your right arm up, keep your left arm at your side, and look straight ahead. Lean slowly to your left side by extending your right arm over your head as if you were reaching for something on your left side. You should feel a stretch in your lower back extending up to and out your right arm. You will also feel, though less, a stretch through your left gluteus and thigh muscles. You can also from the starting position, lean slowly backwards, then to your left. You should notice that where you feel the stretch changes. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, and then repeat on the other side (see Photos 7, 8 and 9).

Shoulder Stretch: Now in the standing position, feet together or at shoulder width, extend your right arm straight out in front of you. Take your left hand and grab just above your right elbow and slowly pull it across your body towards your left side. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Then repeat on the other side (see Photo 10).

You can do these stretches once or more. Another way is to do them as a circuit. That is, do the first stretch to both sides, and then perform the next stretch, and so on until all of them are completed. Then repeat it a second and third time. Remember, to stretch slowly, and if at any time you feel pain, stop. These are just a few stretches that you can do and there are many variations, as well as beliefs behind and how to stretch. How long have you been sitting at the computer? Maybe now is a good time to get up and stretch.

In May, we’ll visit the Lisbon , ME, Fire Department and look at the Firefighter Skills Challenge they put on with surrounding departments. We’ll look at how your department can follow their example and use the Challenge as an educational opportunity for your community, department fitness goals or program, recruitment, and public relationsfor your department and those that compete in it.

Until May, stay safe and enjoy the spring.

SCOTT TOMEK MA, EMT-P has been a paramedic for 25 years with 23 of those at Lakeview Hospital EMS in Stillwater, MN. He is a faculty member with the Century College Paramedic Program and wrote the curriculum for and served as the interim director of their public safety degree program. He is a frequent contributor to EMS World Magazine, a frequent presenter at EMS conferences in the Midwest and an educational consultant to fire and EMS services. View all of Scott's artices and podcasts hereHe can be reached at