Health and Wellness

Injuries: Always a Concern for EMS Professionals

What, as educators and training officers, can you do to help prevent injuries? You could bring in speakers (perhaps from an insurance company) for formal presentations. One problem, though. That’s been done before and really hasn’t helped. Back injuries are still the number one injury among EMS professionals. So what is the problem?

From my experience as a certified athletic trainer, the problem is two-fold. One is simply the information presented. The old adage “lift with your knees not with your back”, and “keep you back straight” does not cut it. We have to go beyond that to decrease injury risk. The other problem is a lack of keeping proper body coordination in the forefront. In essence, it is a lack of “reminders.”

Lift from the Core!

What information needs to be conveyed? Lifting does not start with the legs! Lifting starts with “core” of the body! The core is the center of the body and involves the abdominal, low back, glutes (buttock), and the upper thigh muscle groups. Basically the core of the body is from the bottom of the rib cage to mid-thigh. This is the foundation of the body. It has to be utilized with every motion!

To use the abdominals, one must pull the belly button to the spine. Do not push out! They are used by sucking belly button in! This must be the first muscle group activated with all movements. We must constantly remind ourselves to perform this activity first.

How can EMS professionals be “reminding” to engage the core?

As an educator or training officer every time you provide training or educational experiences, you have the opportunity to remind people to use the abdominals first. I recommend you not only remind them, but practice it. Have everybody stand up, suck in their gut, hold it there, and raise their arms over their head (maybe 10 times) and take ten steps forward and ten steps backward. These reminders must be done, and you are the people to do it.

More to Come

The post is just the beginning. I briefly talked about using the abdominals. I will address more injury prevention techniques that you probably have not thought about, or heard about, in the past in subsequent postings. There is a lot more to discuss…a lot more! Stay tuned…

Nathan Place is a Certified Athletic trainer that specializes in training of tactical EMS athletes. If you would like to contact Nathan Place, you may do so at You can also listen to Nathan on the EMS Office Hours podcast.


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.