Utilizing athletic training evaluation and intervention techniques to improve firefighter motion

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The profession of firefighting is an inherently high risk and potentially life-threatening. Firefighters are required to maintain a full active duty status while battling chronic conditions related to the risks and continuous preparation for the job. These risks may include but are not limited to low back pain, cardiovascular problems, and other aches and pains making it difficult to perform their duty. Often, these chronic aches and pains may be directly related to decreased range of motion.

PURPOSE: To determine how often firefighters suffer chronic pain and the impact of a twelve week intervention strategy to improve range of motion.

METHODS: Firefighters from a single suburban fire department (X̅±SD; N=23, Body Mass=91.4±14.6 kg, Height=69.3±3.8 cm, Service Years=13.2±9.2) volunteered for this study. A health history was conducted to determine if the participants complained of chronic pain that did not require them to miss work and how often that pain occurred. Subjects then performed a basic health/fitness assessment that included a comprehensive range of motion assessment that included thirteen measurements on each limb: hip flexion, hip extension, hip internal rotation, hip external rotation, hip abduction, hip adduction, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion, ankle plantarflexion, shoulder extension, shoulder flexion, shoulder internal rotation, and shoulder external rotation. 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 a comprehensive stretching protocol and all participants received a stretch band and instruction. 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: Thirteen participants stated that they suffer from chronic pain that did not require them to miss work for an average of 4.69 + 2.01 days per week. Seven of the twenty six range of motion assessments demonstrated a statistically significant change over the 12-week program. Four improved: right hip flexion (p < 0.03), right hip internal rotation (p < 0.00), left hip flexion (p < 0.4) and left hip internal rotation (p < 0.02). Three motions decreased: right hip external rotation (p < 0.2), left hip external rotation (p < 0.3) and left ankle plantarflexion (p < 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Generalized whole body stretching techniques have been demonstrated in the literature to improve range of motion. This study demonstrated improvement in hip range of motions. Improvements in hip range of motion can decrease the risk of low back injuries, which are prevelant in the firefighting population. Future studies should implement more subject specific stretching strategies to focus on individual deficits.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Firefighters and other tactical populations may want to implement range of motion strategies to movement and function 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


  • Functional movement
  • Tactical wellness
  • Tactical preparedness


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