Georgiy Sekretaryuk
June 23, 2020
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Beach Lifeguard Physical Therapy and Fitness

The BC Government just announced that after a period of COVID 19 lockdowns lifeguards will once again be joining beachgoers on provincial sands as of July 13. If you’re among them, then you know it’s time for a physical fitness refresher. While you may have a normal regime of exercises, there is one thing you need to do to ensure you’re in top form – see a physiotherapist. Here’s why.

5 Reasons Why Beach Lifeguards Should Make Physiotherapy a Part of Their Fitness and Training Regime


Chronic Pain is Not an Option When Lives Depend on You

According to WorkSafeBC, Acute muscle strains and sprains account for approximately 44 percent of lifeguard injuries. If left unchecked (which they often do) they will result in longer term chronic ailments that will challenge the way you do your job. Then there are repetitive strain injuries. These include (but are not exclusive to) the following:

  • “Swimmer’s shoulder“ – rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis.
  • “Lifeguard’s calf” – stress and inflammation of the dorsi and plantar flexors of the foot and ankle.
  • “Jumper’s Knee“ – patellar tendinitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Shin splints
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Bicipital tendinitis
  • Acromioclavicular joint sprain

All of the above lead to chronic pain. As a lifeguard, you cannot afford to live with chronic pain because lives depend on you being in the best possible physical condition. Of course, these concerns can be directly addressed through physiotherapy. Regular visits with a physiotherapist can help prevent these injuries, and will also help rehabilitate them should they already exist.

You Must be Aware of Potential Physical Issues and Malfunctions 

Not all repetitive strain injuries come with symptoms (i.e. pain or lack of movement) that you can easily identity and attend to. Many issues are underlying and may not make themselves known until it’s too late. For example, neglecting to warm up tight calf muscles prior to a shift at the beach can leave you susceptible to a calf tear as soon as you jump down from your perch to attend to someone struggling out in the water. We don’t need to tell you the implications of that occurring. This is just one of many examples of how your overworked body can lead to injury and/or inability to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Only by having a physiotherapist perform a comprehensive assessment of your muscles, joints, ligaments, and overall body functioning can you be sure that you’ll be ready for anything this beach season.

It Will Help You Swim Faster and for Longer

This is job requirement number one. To get to a struggling or drowning person you need to be at your absolute best. It doesn’t matter what your speed and endurance is like right now, you can always improve upon it. Regular physiotherapy will not only attend to the issues above, it will work your smaller stabilizer muscles for improved performance and may also help with your breathing technique. View more on how physiotherapy will make you an even better swimmer than you are today.

A Beach Surface is Not the Same as the Pool Deck

Your “workspace” is dynamic and changes by the day. You are required to run on a crowded and uneven sandy surface that can result in an injury with the slightest pivot. A physiotherapist can work with you to improve your core (important for balance) and strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your feet while improving the elasticity of each foot’s extensor tendons. This will keep injury at bay while allowing you to get to a swimmer in danger as quickly as possible. View more about how physiotherapy assists with running on the beach.

It Will Help You Pass and Maintain Fitness Test Requirements

“National Lifeguard” is the professional standard for lifeguard training in BC and all of Canada. In addition to standard pool facilities, National Lifeguards are trained by the Lifesaving Society to work at beaches, waterfronts, waterparks, and surf environments across the country. Being on the coast, testing requirements in BC are among the most stringent in Canada. Whether you are about to take your first course or you need to maintain certification after years of service you should consult with a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist will help ensure that you will attain and maintain the fitness test requirements.

If you are a lifeguard (or plan on being one) in the Greater Vancouver area be sure to schedule your first consultation with Absolute PhysioCare in Burnaby BC. Contact us at 604.558.2273.

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