Fishing can be tough on the body. Fighting waves, working motors, standing upright, and firing off repeated casts can easily put strain on overworked limbs, joints, and muscles. Injury is the worst-case scenario, but for the most part, a lack of comfort and the ability to power through a day on the water will both be greatly diminished. Bottom line is – exercising can enhance your fishing experience, hands down.
I think of myself as a fairly fit guy. But I have had my share of bumps and bruises along the way. One season I felt the crippling effects of “flippers elbow.” Being a dyed-in-the-wool largie guy, a reliance on this particular technique – and the repetitive motion it involves – left me with a taped up elbow, on pain meds, and barely able to lift my prized flipping stick for a few weeks. That was a tough pill to swallow.
Last year came more news. Having had pain in my left shoulder since Christmas, a visit to the doctor and an ultrasound gave me the answers. I was diagnosed with calcific tendinosis of the supraspinatous tendon causing mild impingement. I also had thickening of the subacromion and subdeltoid bursa. It all became clear what the route cause of this was after my first visit to my physiotherapist. Her words still ring in my head over a week later: “you have terrible posture!” Combine that “terrible posture” with 23 years of working a tiller motor, and over time, the injury has manifested itself. The thickening of the muscle was a clear sign of how much strain is put on the shoulder from repeated turns of an outboard – year in and year out.
Fortunately, an injury of this type can be corrected through strength conditioning and working the muscles and tendons in different angles. Luckily, bass season was still five months away!
These two stories are meant to illustrate how important staying in shape is, and how being conscious of correct body posture and alignment, while utilizing workouts gear towards strengthening and stretching exercises, can lead to a risk-free and more enjoyable time on the water.
Take a look in the mirror and eye up your posture. After talks with my physiotherapist, bad posture is one of the leading causes of injury and soreness. It takes a conscious effort to correct this one, but once you do, the change you feel is immeasurable.
As anglers, we utilize a lot of movement when working a boat or casting a line. Get into the habit of stretching before each fishing trip, and again at the end. This will help in loosening up muscles, and will lessen the chance of strain.
Work on the key muscle groups. Shoulders, forearms, and abdominal all come into play when casting. Legs take a beating when working trolling motors and through hours of standing. Weight lifting, daily walks, and yoga can all help in strengthening key body parts, while improving stamina and ability.
Eat healthy. Not only at home but in the boat. Long gone are the days of chips, pop, and chocolate bars in my boat. Adequate water, healthy snacks, and a nutritious meal will not only make you feel better, but also perform better.
Make this season the one that change happens in your life. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
* Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness or weight lifting plan or activity.