Welcome to episode 27 of the 911 Shift Ready podcast.
Today we are going to be diving into how I get responders to recover really quickly post workout, as well as post shift.
Even when they are on really long blocks of shifts.
We’re going to dive into the secrets that I uncover, the tools that we use and how we can figure out how to make each and every one of the responders that we work with operationally strong. Have that operational endurance where they can push really hard and know how hard to push without going over that edge of overtraining.
The thing is, is that many of you are working out. You’ve probably worked out most of your life and you absolutely know what workouts you like to do. What kind of a push you like in the gym? And some days you may be finding that, well, I don’t know, maybe some of you are finding this.
Let me know if this is true, that some days your workouts are awesome. You go in, you have the energy, you have the drive, your body recovers after you feel great. The workout does everything that it needs to do. And there’s other days where you don’t.
And the thing is, is it may not co-relate with the shift, what happened on shift.
You may have some days on a long shift where the workout feels really good after and you may have another day with a long shift and the workout just doesn’t after.
When you start looking at it and trying to figure out why was this workout really good and why was this one not, unless you really dive into more information than just your observations that you’re making.
Then it’s really hard to figure out how to optimize your workouts all the time. How to be pushing, when to be pushing, how to really stay strong throughout your day, especially when you’re having a lot of OT and a lot of this operational stress that is being thrown at you each and every shift.
You do know your body hands down. And you know what feels good and what feels bad. You know when you don’t have the energy. You kind of have an idea of when something is working or when it isn’t.
With all of your experience, it really makes sense that relying on your instincts and your body should be the best way to know what you need and when.
The thing is when we are going based off how your body feels in one specific moment of time or we’re also following a specific workout schedule that we know let’s say when you’re at the station, this is the workout that you do when you are on your days off, this is the workouts that you do.
You may have a set schedule that you know day one of days off it’s this, day two of days off, it’s this. You may be following some sort of a schedule all of the time. And essentially you are guessing what your body needs each and every single day. You’re not going off of data and we’re missing a lot of key information that might be subtle that your body is giving you or might not be subtle, might be some big things but we may not be relating those to your recovery or your ability to really kick butt and be strong.
And how I relate this when you are just using your body, kind of going blindly, when you’re guessing and you’re not using real data, it’s like going from Los Angeles to New York without a GPS, without using any maps, without mapping where you’re going at all. Pretty much just hopping in your car, having a credit card and some clothes with you and going, “Okay, I’m going to New York.”
Not asking anybody for directions and just guessing where you need to go.
That’s probably not going to go very well.
You’re not going to know where the detours are, where there’s accidents. The GPS won’t be able to tell you all sorts of information to be able to get there with the best route possible.
And the thing though is once you start collecting the right data, it’s almost like you have a GPS for your body, for your workouts to know what is and isn’t working in your body.
And that’s what we are going to dive in today.
I am going to help you understand what data is important and how we use that data in my 911 Elite Performance Program in order to make sure that responders are as strong as possible.
All of the time as best as possible cause we don’t know when the next operation, when the next block of mandatory OT is going to hit your specialized operation.
When we’re guessing we’re not going off that data, we don’t also know what tools to take out in order to get you back up as quick as possible and then that starts slowing things down.
It really becomes hard to not know what is and isn’t working. You may be taking some supplements, you may be using different aids that you know help with your stress. You may be eating a certain way and thinking, “Okay, I’m doing all the things.
I’m doing all of these things. But I feel like I could be a little stronger. I feel like I could have more endurance.”
I’m needing coffees to get through shift when I should have the energy to be getting through my shifts.
And it starts decreasing your recovery and your ability to focus.
It starts taking longer to do reports sometimes.
The thing is, is when you’re not able to really see where you need to make the changes and you’re just guessing, you start spending all this money on supplements or trying all kinds of things. Using a lot of time to do all these things that people are suggesting. And they just aren’t working for you.
Or maybe we’re not focusing on the ones that are maximizing you.
Getting the data can make such a huge difference in knowing what is and isn’t working. And just saves you so much time and money and frustration going in circles when if you’re like me, you want to hit the gym hard. You want to be strong. You want to have the energy. You want to be that top person on every call. Ready for anything that is thrown your way.
What I use in 911 Elite Performance that really does help is health trackers. Now I’m not married to one specific health tracker, whichever health tracker somebody has, we will use that data. There are a few favorites that I do have the whoop band more for first responders.
I do like the Oura ring but a titanium ring is not great for a lot of you on shift. We tend to more go with the Whoop because of a lot of the information and data that it does give us. Also, they do tailor a lot to military and first responders and in a lot of the research that they do, which is phenomenal.
That being said, any will do- Garmins, Fitbits, any that anybody has, we can use the stats.
The main stats that we do want is an HRV.
Your HRV is your heart rate variability. What that is, is the amount of time between heartbeats.
When you’re stressed, heartbeats fast. When you’re relaxed, heartbeats slow, so you have a longer timeframe in between your heartbeats when you’re relaxed, when you’re calm, when your body is able to handle stress.
HRV, if it is calculated while you’re sleeping, not on a call, shouldn’t have any stressors, anything. We want a high HRV. We want you to be relaxed while you’re sleeping. We don’t want you to be stressed.
This is a really big marker for all the responders that we work with because the HRV that they come into us with is usually pretty low, 20, 25, 30. Some 35 that’s the range that we get with many of the responders.
Some though are like 12 – 15, it’s crazy. That’s how fast their heart is beating, even when they’re sleeping. So their ability to recover from stress is less.
Other markers that we do like to see in a health tracker is deep sleep, REM sleep so that we can tell how much you’re getting of each.
There’s certain percentages that you should be getting.
When my husband was doing the trucker rally 33 days straight, he was doing an average of 18 hours. And so that meant he had six hours to get home, shower, eat, see us and prep for his next day as well as sleep.
He did not get six hours of sleep.
He would range between four and five hours of being able to sleep, being able to be in the bed.
If we know his deep and REM even before the trucker rally happens, knowing what tools for him helped to increase his deep, helped to increase his REM sleep.
What tools for him helped. Then we took out all those tools while he was doing those 33 days in the trucker rally.
And with those tools, we knew for him specifically what worked for him.
It’s different. There are certain supplements that really help him get into a better deep and REM sleep. Same with my clients.
There’s some that help them and there’s some that don’t.
What works for me, certain supplementation to get me into a deep and REMs sleep is different than my husband. So you need to know what works for you.
And there’s different tools and strategies that we teach you in 911 Elite Performance. Being able to see them along with your tracker to find out which ones are working and which ones aren’t, is huge for us to know. There are other stats that are on these health trackers that we can dive into, but the main ones I do look at are HRV deep and REM sleep and your heart rate. While you’re sleeping, where your heart rate drops?
Depending on the curve of your heart rate tells me if you’re stressed, tells me if you’re having gut digestive issues. It tells me if you are relaxed and your body is actually handling stress very well.
Between your HRV and understanding the way the curve of your heart rate goes can make a big difference in me saying, okay, this is working for you.
So with that, just noting as well, like we have a fire guy that has a bed with HRV tracker in it. He doesn’t have any other stats. We use it.
Whatever we can use in order to figure out as best as possible what information we can is great. As the responders start going through our program, they do tend to invest in one of the other trackers once they start seeing all the data that we can be getting from those that are in the group.
We first start with getting everything on track.
When a responder comes in, we’re going to first start working on getting your HRV up. Getting your deep sleep up. Interestingly, we won’t actually start your REM right away because if we have to pay back some sleep debt. Your deep is going to take over.
We need to get your deep up first to where your deep is recovering and then we can get into the REM.
Now that being said, we have an officer recently who promoted and with her new promotion. Two things mentally happen for her.
One is she’s now in charge of a new team. She hadn’t been on the road in a while.
She’s worked in a detective’s office and so she had to mentally relearn the new things on the road that have happened since she last had been on the road.
She had to learn her team, all the different personalities, how all they work, managing a team. There’s a lot of mental stuff going on, which REM is very important for processing while you’re sleeping.
At the same time, she’s finishing up cases in the detective’s office so that she can hand them off to people. And so that’s also another mental push for her.
What we did find is because she wasn’t in sleep debt anymore because she’d already worked on all of her stats.
We know where her baselines are and we found though that when she first made this switch, REM started taking over.
And it made sense. So we started giving her some strategies to help with deep sleep.
While REM did need to happen for her to process everything that was happening, she still needed to heal physically.
She’s on the road wearing 25 to 40 pounds of equipment for 12 hour shifts and changing shifts as well.
When you change to a different shift schedule that also pushes your body. So you need the deep to be recovering from those things.
And so we had to pull out some other tools as well to help with that deep sleep for her and to make sure though that she was still getting the REM sleep that she needed while she was transitioning into this new position.
We have another officer, or sorry, not an officer, an EMS.
When he started with us, his HRV was a 25. Ish 30. He said like 35 was a good day for him when he first started with his HRV. He also has the whoop band. So the whoop band also tells us your strain level for your day. It’s out of 20.
Now, a football player, NASCAR racer on their race days, their game days, they get up to a 20.
This EMS worker was getting up to I believe a 14, 15 on some of his shifts when he was working without working out. And through getting his HRV up, his average HRV is a 50 and through making sure that we started getting his deep and his REM sleep back on track and teaching him how to do that with his schedule.
He is rural EMS. They work five days on and then I think five days off, another five on and then two or three off, something like that.
Their stations aren’t that busy, which is why they do these 24’s back to back to back.
But when they have a call, they have a two hour drive to the hospital and so if they have a patient that they need to be working on the entire time that is like doing an intense workout for those two hours that they are transporting that patient to the hospital before they can hand them off to the ER.
And sometimes they can medevac people out but not often. So because of where they’re at, it’s not able to happen.
This past week he had a bariatric patient that was over 500 pounds and there was not another EMS or anybody that could come and help them for more than an hour. And this client needed to get to the hospital.
So him and his partner, carried this patient downstairs and into the vehicle. If you think about it, that was 500 pounds but it was different than a gym. A gym, you’re going to have 500 pounds on a bar with weights that are stationary and linear.
When you are carrying a patient downstairs, they’re moving. It’s not a solid, like how do I describe this in a physics way. It’s not like a board where if one end moves the other tips. They’re bending in everything. So it is more than 500 pounds in a sense. The way that it works with physics, with your levers and pulleys in order to be getting this person down the stairs.
His HRV dropped to 30, which used to be a good HRV for him when he started.
It dropped to a 30 and by the next day it was back up to a 50 and at night his deep sleep increase because his deep sleep needed to heal.
If we start looking at this, it’s very similar to a workout, right? So that was like doing a workout in the gym and then they had to transport to the hospital.
So getting to that hospital is like a HIIT workout as well.
That’s more your in. Well, it depends if whoever’s in the back of the truck, depending on what they need to do for the patient. And then the driver is doing an endurance workout. So we have to come up with strategies as well of “Okay. What can you be doing while you’re driving to kick you out of your stress system?”
What can we be doing to get you back into a resting state so you’re not living in that stress state so we can get those hormones out of your system, so your body isn’t thinking that you’re working out?
What can we be doing in order to help you heal and repair after that?
When you are at the hospital, not at a restaurant, right?
What can we be doing?
And then you have this long ride home. What can we be doing in that transit time to be able to get you to heal and repair as fast as possible?
We’ve had to come up with so many different strategies for him than we do with an officer working 12 hour shifts than we do with a fire or EMS worker that is working in a service that is in a, like a more of a city urban, where they don’t have as large of a service area for them, but they may have a higher call volume.
There’s different strategies. Higher call volume requires different strategies.
But this gentleman, this EMS worker, he now has average of a six or a seven strain on a shift, which is amazing.
That allows him, if we think of it, their strain goes up to a 20 that allows him more bandwidths to then get a really good, solid workout and still be able to heal without overtraining.
We have others with different trackers that I’m able to look at their heart rate variability and their heart rate and their deep and REM to be able to see if they have recovered or not, how quick their recovery is after certain shifts, how quick their recovery is.
We have a guy as well, ladder truck at one point and an engine truck.
We need different strategies on the shifts that he’s on a ladder truck and the shifts that he’s on a engine truck. They’re different.
Different shifts, different requirements.
And some of those shifts, he’s still able to really push really hard in a workout and other of those shifts he needs to change and alter his workouts in order to recover.
Understanding how to read your data, understanding how to really work with it and know what tools to be implementing different supplements, different strategies, training your resting system, different things to be getting your circadian rhythms to know when to sleep, when to wake. Let’s say you go to bed at ten thirty and a call comes in at eleven thirty, twelve then you have to get back to sleep at, I don’t even know. It depends on the call.
Let’s even just say the call was cleared. You get there, you come back and it’s one o’clock, you’re able to go back to sleep.
What strategies do you implement to get into a good, solid sleep then versus if the call was not cleared and it’s three or four in the morning when you’re getting back?
There’s different things that you need to do if a call comes in versus being a multiple alarm call. There’s different tools that you’ll need to pull out based on what happened.
Same thing for police, depending on what you’re doing. Are you like working in the MICC and where you’re sitting for these really long hours or are you on the front lines, are you working protests, front lines?
Are you physically pushing yourself? Did something physically happen on that shift? On a call?
Different strategies are required.
In order to make sure that your body is able to heal, your body is able to sleep and get into the proper deep and REM in order to make sure that you have all of the tools based on what is situationally happening on the job.
Having that data when they tell me, “Okay, this happened on a call this week” or “I had a really crappy sleep.” So we start looking at the data. We look at the day before we start looking at, “Okay, what happened?
Were you on shift off? What happened?”
Sometimes it’s what did you eat?
Like somebody else I was talking to you the other day. They had a pizza, big one of the big greasy pizza joint pizzas and heartburn huge that night, right? So the strategies that we need we’re working on gut stuff with him in order to be able to mitigate and decrease that heartburn. There’s a lot to it. I’m not going to lie.
I geek out on this. I love it when responders come to calls and they start diving into the data and they tell me what happened on shift and that they’ve been going through all of the lessons in the program. So they know the lessons. They know all of the sleep stuff. They know all the gut stuff. They know all of the things for the resting nervous system to train it to get them to switch in and out of stress states.
Then when they bring these things to coaching calls, we’ve even seen where like one of our fire guys coming off of a 24 hour shift felt guilty for his spouse doing all of the domestic stuff.
That he pushed so hard on his first day off, they have a little child and pushing really, really hard in order to make sure that they were pulling their weights. So to seem or getting as much done, like the huge list done.
And interestingly, once we started diving in, his HRV dropped more after his first day off than it did on shift of a busy service.
And when we started diving in, why is your HRV lower on like the night of day one and going into day two and we started diving into what he’s doing and where he is going. And once he started spreading out those chores, his HRV got higher that he was started going into his next shift, way more recovered.
He was calmer. His brain was easier to focus. He didn’t need coffee to be a human anymore. Before that he needed a coffee for anyone to be able to speak to him or be around him. And that all stopped because he started changing what he did actually on his first day off.
So it is so different for each one of you, depending on what’s going on, what your service is like, where everything is.
And yes, in my program I do have, okay, we’ve got sleep. We have your strong resting system. We have your gut. We have all of these different tools and strategies in there. But being able to get you guys on these coaching calls allows me to dive into which tools.
And I could go, okay, go to this lesson. This lesson here is the one that you need for that situation.
And we record these calls in our group so that the other members can hear them. And that way, if you’re listening to them and then that situation arises in you, you know what tools to take out.
You know, what tools to bring in order to keep your HRV up in order for it to recover quickly after really tough shifts or really tough workouts. Or you may have like a huge training exercise. Fire, some of the stuff that you guys do to push your bodies will drop that HRV so much because when your body is healing it doesn’t matter what type of a stress, physical stress, mental stress. When you’re healing after a really tough tactical training session, your HRV will drop.
But how quickly can we get it back up? That’s the thing, and I’m always trying to get it up quicker. Quicker with you guys, right? Sounded dirty. But yeah, it’s really important to make sure that you have this data. When you don’t have the data, it’s kind of like an EMS worker or a medic not even taking somebody’s blood pressure when possible or checking any of their vitals and just doing things without checking any of the basic vitals.
Or going to your doctor. This happens all the time and it drives me crazy, is a doctor you’ll go in and you’ll tell them, “Hey doc, I’m having trouble sleeping.” And they’ll give you just a prescription to make you fall asleep. Meanwhile, there’s so many different reasons as to why you guys struggle with sleep.
Mainly your body just doesn’t know which end is up because of your shifts. So all we need to do is give it simple cues and tools. But they just go, “Oh, hey Doc. I’m getting some indigestion.” and they’ll give you proton pump inhibitors. They don’t ask before they give a prescription, is what I’m trying to say before I rant too heavily on this one. This one drives me crazy.
So many doctors don’t do the tests and before they’ll just give you a prescription for something and they’re guessing. They also then don’t follow up to make sure that the symptoms even went away or that it helped.
Yes, you may be having trouble falling asleep and yes, this prescription may help you to fall asleep but are you waking up with energy?
Odds are no. Because the problem wasn’t the falling asleep. It was all of your sleep hormones not kicking in. That heal, repair and boost your energy so your body knows to have energy in the morning.
That’s a different thing. And that prescription’s not going to fix it but they don’t even follow up.
That’s really for another time.
But the thing is, is that when we don’t use that data or we don’t use the health tracker, we’re wasting a lot of time.
We’re wasting a lot of money trying to get stronger. Trying to build that operational endurance. And in essence, we’re not getting as strong as we can be.
There’s still more that we can get to. There’s still more potential.
Having the right data allows you to start getting back to personal bests in the gym, personal best tactically as well being top of your game on the job.
And it stops you from going in circles and circles where you’re just not making gains and saves you so much time and money. And gets you to that point where you are really excelling in your career.
If you would like to talk to me about 911 Elite Performance, find out if it is for you, dive more into the health tracker stuff. Dive into what it is that we do. And find out if it is for you then email me Support@911Lifestyle.com.
I’ll pass you my calendar link. You can book in a call with me where we can chat about what you are currently doing. What is and isn’t working for you to see if what I do teach in 911 Elite Performance is the best option for you right now.
It’s best if we get on a call because really what is happening with you.
What is happening on your shift in your life. What type of responder you are, what you are currently doing will determine if 911 Elite Performance is for you.
So if you would like to find out, email me Support@911Lifestyle.com and I will see you in the next episode.