Utilizing athletic training evaluation and intervention techniques to improve firefighter functional preparedness

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Firefighting is an inherently high risk and potentially life-threatening career, and firefighters often maintain full active duty status while battling chronic conditions related to the risks and continuous preparation for the job including, but not limited to low back pain, cardiovascular problems, and other aches and pains making it difficult to perform their duty.

PURPOSE: To determine the effectiveness of a functional assessment based, athletic trainer prescribed fitness regime on firefighter functional testing and performance.

METHODS: Firefighters from a single suburban fire department (X̅±SD; N=24, Body Mass=91.4±14.6 kg, Height=69.3±3.8 cm, Service Years=13.2±9.2) volunteered for this study. Subjects performed a basic health/fitness assessment that included The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) that is a series of 7 movement patterns assessed by clinicians on a scale of 1-3, sit and reach test, and blood pressure. Following the assessment, subjects began a semi-individualized 12-week training intervention consisting of functional training, strength training, and/or running based on movement deficiencies indicated by the initial assessment. All programs included corrective exercises for deficiencies including T-spine mobility, shoulder rotator cuff weakness, core and low back stability, calf tightness and ankle dorsiflexion improvement, and hip mobility and strengthening. Athletic trainers involved in programming were CSCS. Following the 12-week intervention, subjects were reassessed with the initial health assessment. Paired samples t-tests were used to analyze assessment changes for each measure.

RESULTS: Three of the seven FMS tests significantly improved following the intervention including Hurdle Step Pre (2.00±0.00) to Post (2.38±0.49) (p=0.001), Stability Pushup Pre (1.88±0.45) to Post (2.83±0.38) (p < 0.001), and Rotary Stability Pre (1.58±0.65) to Post (2.21±0.51) (p=0.001). Total FMS score (scale 0-21) improved Pre (15.17±1.66) to Post (16.75±2.03) (p=0.001) although Shoulder Mobility decreased Pre (2.54±0.51) to Post (1.83±0.70) (p=0.001). Sit and Reach performance improved Pre (25.54±9.89 cm) to Post (29.54±6.37 cm) (p=0.006). Systolic Blood Pressure decreased Pre (131.21±12.15 mmHg) to Post (119.33±11.44 mmHg) (p=0.002).

CONCLUSION: Athletic training evaluation and intervention techniques may be a beneficial way to improve functional preparedness, trunk stability, and health measures like blood pressure associated with the demands and stress of tactical populations.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Firefighters and other tactical populations may want to implement athletic training led interventions to improve functional movement related problems caused by the high physical demand of the job.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2021
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021: Poster presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Campus, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 22 Feb 202126 Feb 2021


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Injury Prevention
  • Functional Movement
  • Tactical Health


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