Today is national law enforcement appreciation day! Our law enforcement officers work so hard and do so much for us day to day. Not only are their jobs essential, but they are TOUGH jobs. In honor of law enforcement day, I did some research on law enforcement injury and prevention. I hope you share this information with somebody you know in law enforcement to help them with their career journey!
Jobs in law enforcement are physically tough on the body. There is a much higher risk of physical and musculoskeletal injury than in other occupations due to the job description: running distances with or without a load, restraining offenders, self-defense, and manual handling tasks. Along with….
· countless hours spent sitting in the squad car
· Hours spent looking at the screen to the left of the driver’s seat
· Hours spent standing or walking for security duty
· These are all followed by hours of paperwork!
Fun fact: The MOST common mechanism of injury is: restraining non-compliant offenders. The second most common cause is operational training. This means that many officers should prepare their bodies BEFORE they enter the profession!
Another group of injuries occurs with the lifting, carrying, or use of equipment. I have heard many officers who complain of heavy and complicated uniforms or sitting awkwardly in the car due to equipment.
Another fun fact: there is not a consensus on the most common PLACE to be injured. Ankles, low back, and shoulder injuries are common. These areas should be focused on when preventing injuries in general. If officers have a history of a specific injury in the body, then THIS area of the body needs to be mobile AND strong.
Officers at a higher frequency for injury have limited mobility, excess mobility, lower fitness levels, or previous sprain or strain injury. Another HIGH-risk factor is: being overweight. The extra weight puts stress and pressure on the musculoskeletal system. Studies have found that being overweight increases the severity of the injury and delays healing time if they occur.
So what should law enforcement officers be doing for prevention? The main thing officers can do maintain a healthy weight and regular exercise routine. These 2 measures will both prevent the risk of injury and prevent the severity of injuries if they occur.
Now, many officers will say they do not have time. But, many of those who do it successfully incorporate activities with their family so they do not lose time with their kids or spouses. They also keep the workouts short and effective and aimed at preventing injuries. (Link for injury reduction pdf guide- https://www.theiacp.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/228647_IACP_InjuryReduction_8.5×11-WEB_0.pdf)
The work done day to day on the job is NOT enough exercise to keep the body healthy. Jiu-Jitsu has been shown to help reduce injuries because the training increases activity levels and targets injury prevention using strength, mobility, and the ability to handle movements while on the job.
I have 2 current patients who are retired law enforcement. They have several injuries that have created long-lasting pains. Each has found relief in my office, yet I wished I could have found them in the PREVENTION stage years before.
Preventing injuries with rehabilitation and movement therapy, rather than treating the injury outcome, is much more beneficial for law enforcement officers. So what should officers be doing in their workouts for injury prevention?
· Core activation and strength
· Mid-back mobility
· Shoulder and hip stability
· Lifting mechanics and load strength
· **And the key- doing all of this at a healthy weight.
If you know someone in law enforcement that could benefit from this information, please send this information to them! Have them call me so I can help them prepare for their functional and pain-free future.
And to all of those officers out there: thank you for all you do! Happy national law enforcement day!
Talk to you all soon,