Any angler knows that fishing can cause wear and tear on the body.
Periods of relative inactivity interspersed with flurries of intense effort can result in injury, as can the repetitive motions of casting and retrieving. Physical fitness can really help you up your game and keep you healthy too.
So kick off your fishing boots, clear some space in your bivvy, and try some of the stretches below while you’re waiting for a bite.
It’s all about posture
How we stand when we fish has a major effect on the muscular balance of our bodies.
When standing, most anglers tend to rest more of their weight on one leg, with their pelvis rotated forward. Holding a fishing rod is a shoulder-rounding stance and gazing down at the water places a strain on neck muscles.
In short, fishing puts your body out of balance.
To counteract the stresses that fishing puts on our bodies, we need to stretch in such away that unlocks tensions in muscles and joints – particularly our backs. One exercise that’s very useful for anglers is the ‘superman.’
Not only does it release tension in your lower back, it strengthens core muscles too. Lie on your front with your arms stretched out in front.
Keeping your head in a neutral position, lift your arms and legs clear of the floor. Hold and slowly release.
Added release for shoulders and neck can be incorporated into this exercise by bringing your arms back so that you resemble an aeroplane. Not sure? It’s easy – babies do it all the time.
Pain in the neck
Fishing puts a strain on your neck, so make sure that you stretch before and after fishing.
The lateral neck bend is a simple exercise. Look up – look down, look right – look left. Bend your head towards one shoulder, straighten, then bend toward the other. Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position throughout.
You can do the exercises at any time so make sure you take them fishing with you. Take your time to perform the movements slowly and smoothly.
Lower back problems affect vast numbers of people. The human body wasn’t designed to sit down for hours every day.
Enforced immobility is a major problem in Western society – but to ensure you remain fit enough to fish – there are steps you can take.
Simply take a step forward, lower your back knee and at the same time push the front of your hip forward. Only bend as far as you find comfortable and always stop if you feel pain.
With this exercise, it is important not to bend your front leg beyond a right angle. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds before slowly straightening. Then swap legs and do it again.
A simple exercise for improving core strength is the plank.
Pay great attention to getting the pose right and you’ll reap the reward of this very effective exercise. Keep your knees locked and your legs straight.
Your hips should be level at all times. As you tire it’s tempting to let your back sag. Don’t.
It’s far better to let your knees drop to the floor and do a modified stance. Your head should be in a neutral position and your upper arms at right angles to the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can – it’s great for your core, back upper body and legs.
Forearms and elbows.
Winding the handle of your reel and casting are highly repetitive motions that can lead you to develop tennis elbow. This is a very painful condition that can take all the fun out of fishing. Keep your muscles and tendons supple by performing this easy stretch.
With your arm out in front of you, gently bend your hand back. Hold and release. Now take the same hand and bend it in the opposite direction. Repeat several times on each side.
Never stretch further than is comfortable. It’s much better to repeat the exercise two or three times a day than try to make big gains right away.
Practise little and often and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much more reeling your elbows and wrists can take.