Evaluating the Importance of Core Strength in Firefighting Through Research

Summary of the Evaluated Research

Santos, M. S., Behm, D. G., Barbado, D., DeSantana, J. M., & Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E. (2019). Core Endurance Relationships With Athletic and Functional Performance in Inactive People. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 1490. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6930174/ 

Maximum strength, power, and strength-endurance of the core or trunk can define core strength (Santos, Behm, Barbado, DeSantana, & Da Silva-Grigoletto, 2019). The researchers Santos et al. (2019) wanted to evaluate the fitness attributes of the core in regards to its association with athletic performance. To do this, the study called for 74 inactive healthy subjects of various ages, 28 males and 36 females. Testing protocol was divided between two different days, 24 hours apart, so the physical demand of one day would not affect the performance for the other set of tests on day two. On the first day of testing, the following was performed: countermovement jump (CMJ), T-run test, maximum dynamic strength (1RM of the bench press, pull row and leg press machine) and push-ups. The second day of testing involved the following: “muscular power (bench press, pull row, and leg press machine) and core endurance tests (front bridge, back extension, and side-bridge)” (Santos et al., 2019). Back, front, and side bridge tests were utilized to assess isometric core endurance. The interaction between trunk flexion, trunk/back extension, and side-bridge represented core endurance. The testing presented that the ability of core endurance allowed subjects to maintain intermittent running (46.9%), perform maximum force exertion (between 10.9 and 14.9%), generate power (between 13.6 and –15.1%), complete push-ups (15.7%), perform sitting and lifting tasks sitting and lifting (19.8%), and have a higher quality of movement (20.9%) (Santos et al., 2019).  

Practical Application in Firefighting

Core strength and endurance should be a huge component in the aspect of strength and conditioning programs for first responders. Based on the finding presented by Santoset al. (2019), firefighters and tactical athletes should direct a portion of their focus toward core development and performance. This would mean applying training methods for different functions of the core. Strength and conditioning professionals should prescribe concentric, isometric, and transverse tasks for the core within program design. Not only should these areas be covered with protocol design, but also incorporated in a functional sense in regards to job task. For instance, isometric tasks could involve planks, bear crawls, and suitcase or farmer carries. Concentric tasks could include turkish get-ups. Transverse tasks could include landmine presses, sledgehammer tasks, or single arm throws. We should always train our tactical athletes to be strong in regards to function, as this mindset is what carries over fitness attributes to job-based tasks.

Written by Hussien Jabai

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