Strength and Fitness and Subsequent Back Injuries in Firefighters

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This prospective investigation was done to evaluate five strength and fitness measurements and the subsequent occurrence of back injuries in 1652 firefighters for the years 1971 to 1974. The prospective measurements included flexibility, isometric lifting strength, bicycle ergometer exercise measurements of two-minute recovery heart rate, diastolic blood pressure at a heart rate of 160 beats per minute and watts of effort required to sustain heart rate at 160. Three fitness and conditioning groups were established by multivariate ranking and regression techniques (259 high, 266 low, and 1127 middle) and the subsequent back injuries were tabulated for the three groups. The results showed a graded and statistically significant protective effect for added levels of fitness and conditioning (least fit, 7.1% injured; middle fit, 3.2% jured; and most fit, 0.8% injured). It was concluded that physical fitness and conditioning of firefighters are preventive of back injuries and that further investigations are warranted to study other injuries and physical fitness in this physically active occupational group.

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