As we are already aware, firefighting is inherently dangerous. It is a profession that requires us to put our bodies on the line at any given moment. According to the NFPA, in 2015 alone, 68,085 firefighters injuries were reported in the United States. Out of the total reporter number of firefighter injuries, 29,130 (43%) were fire ground related and 7,560 (11%) were training related.
Sometimes we walk away unscathed, while other times we come back with a few bumps and bruises to say the least. But let's be honest, are we always working at 100% health? Maybe, maybe not.
Everything from the weight of our PPE, to the addition of our SCBA, to the tools and other accessories we may carry with us add weight which also weighs us down and causes our bodies extra physical stress as well as mental stress than our bodies are already under while performing our tasks.
Everything from physical fitness training, hands on fire ground training and any other type of training we may take part in adds loads of stress on us and let's not forget the daily routines of family and outside activities we are all apart of in our personal lives.
With that, one way we as emergency service personnel can reduce these stressors is through massage therapy. This can be done 1-2 times a month and based on your activity level, goals, lifestyle and general health, the frequency could change.
On a personal level and without getting into details, being in the fire service and an athlete of various levels I've had my share of injuries and a few surgeries and found massage therapy to be a beneficial way to reduce soreness and recover from minor injuries I've incurred along the way.
Here are a list of reasons (broken into 2 categories) why massage therapy is beneficial for us to add to our toolbox of physical and mental gains on and off the fire ground.
Overall Health & Wellness
• It aligns the spine and reduces pressure on nerves
• It relaxes your muscles and helps you to maintain good posture
• It relieves stress
• It improves your circulation
• It stimulates the body's secretion of endorphins
•Calming the central nervous system
•Elongating tight muscles
•Loosening toxins from the tissues for elimination
Injury & Surgery Recovery
•Reduce pain, minimizing the need for pain medication
•Inhibit swelling by moving lymph
•Break up scar tissue
•Hasten the healing process by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen
**Please note: Always consult with your physician before getting a massage while recovering from any injury or surgery. It may not be the best treatment option after an injury or surgery or may be limited to particular modalities.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.