Barney Fife is long gone. The days of joking that if you want to find a police officer you need to locate the nearest donut shop are over.

I have found the police, fire and other emergency professionals to be well trained, disciplined and serious about their job and responsibilities. As a result they know how important it is to stay fit and healthy.

Tactical athletes is how I have heard these professionals describe themselves. Their training and workouts are designed so they can do their job more efficiently. They need to protect the public and themselves while doing a dangerous job.

I remember working out in the same area of the gym with one police officer. He was kneeling on top of a fitness ball while doing 35-pound dumbbell shoulder presses.

Of course I had to try, and it took me forever just to be able to balance on a fitness ball for 30 seconds without any dumbbells. Try it next time you see a fitness ball, but be careful not to fall off and get hurt.

The patients I have seen in my office all work out hard, but most do not lift heavy weights. They are more concerned about strength and agility than carrying large amounts of muscle mass.

One officer had chronic knee pain from long-distance running. He had a number of surgeries on his knee, including anterior collateral ligament repair and IT band release.

Examination revealed tenderness over the outside of the knee, foot pronation and pelvis imbalance causing a weakness to his buttocks muscle all on the same side as his bad knee.

Treatment included manipulation of the foot, the fibula bone of the lower leg that attaches to the knee and the ankle. We also performed deep friction massage of the tendons in the knee.

His response was remarkable. After a short time he was able to compete in a triathlon and later started training a police dog. His wife wrote me a wonderful e-mail thanking me for giving her husband back what he loves to do.

Recently a police officer came in with a sprained neck. He was training the younger officers in hand-to-hand combat. He allowed the rookie to get him into a neck hold. The rookie wanted to show how good he was, and pulled too hard on his neck. It was a mistake. His trainer got out of the hold and put a sleeper hold on the rookie. He awoke several seconds later.

This officer had muscle spasm and loss of motion of his neck. The good news: He had no damage to his cervical disks. He was treated with a chiropractic adjustment that returned his neck motion to normal and stopped the muscle spasm.

Do not let these professionals fool you. One member of a fire department is a master in martial arts. This man has competed at the highest levels and is called upon to train our military in hand-to-hand combat.

His training does not involve lifting heavy weights but using only his body weight with movement. He also includes stretching and yoga with cardio training.

Occasionally he will hurt his lower back when grappling. Because he is in such good physical condition he responds very quickly to care and complies with our recommendations.

It is not mandatory for these “tactical athletes” to train the way they do. They also do not get compensated for their effort to stay in shape. They consider it part of job. They have gained my respect; I hope they have your respect as well. 

Dr. Robert Lynch is a former president of the Maine Chiropractic Association and head of the Lynch Chiropractic Center in South Portland. “Staying in the Game” appears every other Thursday in the Press Herald.