By John Amtmann
Part 1 of this feature examined how a practical approach to fitness conditioning for arborists will help prevent injuries while fitting into the arborist’s busy schedule (see September Arbor Age, page 20).
Part 2, below, details the overall guidelines for fitness conditioning as well as how to perform the specific exercises mentioned in Part 1.
Guidelines for all strength exercises
1. Proper posture — Make sure your base is stabilized and you are using proper posture while lifting. Good posture means your spine should be locked in, with a slight arch in the lower back. The only exercise where you lose this arch, and round the back, is the abdominal curl.
2. Breathe — Be sure to exhale during the exertion phase of the exercise and inhale during the return phase of the exercise. Never hold your breath while lifting.
3. Slow movements — Eliminating momentum by using slow movements will make the exercise more effective by targeting the muscles and will reduce the chance of injury.
4. Warm-up — A proper warm-up prior to physical activity is essential to exercising and working safely. A warm-up literally increases body temperature to prepare the body for physical activity.
Place feet on the platform about shoulder width apart. Keep back and head against pad. Try to push the weight while keeping your knees lined up over the toes. Extend slowly till the legs are almost completely straight but do not lock the knees out. Lower the weight back down slowly till your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
I believe tree work can be a contact sport at times, and training the neck as a major muscle group is important for everybody but especially participants in contact activities. The pictures here should serve as a general guide to exercising the different muscle groups that make up the neck. Seek extra instruction from a certified strength and conditioning professional to address strengthening the neck.
Neck lateral flexion
In this case, a machine is used for the abdominal curl. It can be done just as effectively using a stability ball, or without any equipment at all. Exhale as you slowly move the elbows and knees toward each other.
Adjust the back extension bench so that your waist is at the top pad. Place your hips against the pad and position feet securely under the lower pads. Start with your body in a straight line with your hands crossed on your chest. Bend at the waist and slowly lower the upper body until it is parallel with the floor. Raise your body back up to the starting position and pause for a second.
Lat pull down
This exercise, along with the bench press and external rotation exercises, ensures structural integrity of the muscles of the shoulder. Improving strength of these muscles will help improve overall lifting and moving efficiency, and will help to prevent shoulder injuries. Exhale as you pull the bar to your upper chest. Inhale as you return to start position.
Pin the upper arm in front next to the torso, keep the elbow bent at 90 degrees, rotate at the shoulder (externally). Return slowly to the start position. This exercise targets the rotator cuff to help maintain and improve shoulder stability.
The bench press, and other upper body exercises, provide needed strength for lifting, operating and carrying equipment. Because the shoulders are strengthened, this exercise can help prevent shoulder injuries. Lying on a bench, exhale as you push the dumb bells toward the ceiling. Inhale as you return to start position.
Curls strengthen the upper arms, forearms and wrists. This exercise can help prevent wrist and elbow injuries and provide needed strength for daily operations. Exhale as you curl the forearms up toward the shoulders. Inhale as you return to start position.
Triceps extension works the back side of the upper arm. This muscle group is involved in the actions of various lifting and moving actions. Keep upper arms tight to sides. Exhale as you push the forearms down until the arms are straight. Inhale as you return to start position. Leaning over at the hips slightly will help perform this exercise comfortably.
Wrist curls help to improve grip, which is important when lifting heavier equipment and carrying objects for greater distances. Exhale as you curl your wrists and raise the weight. Inhale as you lower the weight.
John Amtmann is a professor in his twenty-second year teaching for the Applied Health Science program at Montana Tech in Butte, Mont. He works in the summer for Alpine Tree Services in Butte, and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos provided by John Amtmann.
For additional information, consider going to your local health club, YMCA or gym and consult with a certified fitness instructor.<ITAL]