Manage and Prevent Common Injuries in First Responders

As a first responder, a lot of your job involves going from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds.

That quick response is what helps you save lives, but it’s also what can get you into trouble when it comes to injuries. 

The occasional injury as a first responder is a given, but some injuries are more common than others, so how do you manage and prevent these three common injuries for first responders?

Sprains and Strains

Research has shown that sprains and strains are the main sources of musculoskeletal injury in first responders.

While they’re a common injury, that doesn’t mean they’re not painful or don’t impact your ability to do certain things.

So, when a strain or sprain happens, what can you do?

One of the best things you can do to treat and manage a strain or sprain is resting the area, not allowing yourself to rest can prolong healing.

Additionally, you can take an anti-inflammatory to manage pain, and ice the area several times a day as needed.

If you find that you need to do things that may aggravate the injury consider using compression bandages, or kinesiology tape to support the injured area.

Sometimes strains and sprains are unavoidable, but there are things you can do to help prevent them.

Many strains and sprains happen from having to jump into action quickly without warming up or stretching.

While you can’t always know when to warm up in the case of emergency response, if you find that certain areas get injured or are painful frequently, consider doing strengthening exercises that target those muscles. 


Tendonitis is often due to sudden or repetitive movements, things that are a common part of the job for first responders.

Much like with strains and sprains, these types of injuries, when mild, can be treated at home with proper rest, icing the area several times a day and wearing compression bandages or braces to support the area while it heals. 

However, sometimes tendonitis can be more severe or take longer to heal, in these cases you should contact your doctor to ensure nothing more is going on.

With moderate to severe tendonitis, physical therapy is often advised for recovery.

Physical therapy clinics like Okotoks Physical Therapy Ltd. offer a wide variety of treatments (dry needling, physiotherapy, massage) that can help manage symptoms and aid in the overall recovery process. 

In addition to aiding in your recovery, physiotherapy can help you learn to prevent a similar injury from happening by providing exercises and working with you to target the areas you need to strengthen.

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common complaints of the general population so it’s no surprise that it also afflicts first responders at a significant rate.

Lugging heavy equipment, repetitive lifting and twisting, and just needing to quickly jump into action can all result in back pain.

While you can’t avoid these things in your job, there are things you can do to better manage your pain. 

Regular visits with your Physiotherapist or Chiropractor like the ones at Movement First Physio can help keep your back pain in check.

From manual therapy to prescribing exercises that target the right muscles, these health practitioners can be a valuable part of the team that keeps you doing the amazing work that you do. 


Being a first responder is tough work, and often your body pays the price.

Luckily, there are lots of ways you can manage and even prevent injuries that are easy to incorporate into your hectic schedule.