Fishing boot camp – fitness for anglers

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

The evolution of fishing

The evolution of fishing
Source: Zazzle

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.

Bend

Making it look simple

Making it look easy
Source: The Mommy Files

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

Lateral neck bend exercise

Lateral neck bend exercise
Source: DIY Health

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.

Lunges

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds
Source: SweatNSass

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.

Core strength

The plank exercise

The plank exercise
Source: Get Fit Get Healthy

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.

Never stretch further than is comfortable

Never stretch further than is comfortable

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.

How fishing boots can save your feet

Happy Feet?

Happy Feet?
Source: Allianz

Trench foot is a particularly nasty affliction of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions.

But if you think trench foot isn’t a risk for anglers, think again.  It can take as little as 13 hours to develop what amounts to a serious medical problem.

Read on to discover how good quality fishing boots could literally save your life.

It’s only mud

Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the mud
Source: Wikipedia

As every angler knows getting wet and muddy goes with the territory, but you do need to pay attention to your feet. In temperatures below 16 celsius, if your feet get wet, you’re at risk of developing trench foot.

The boots themselves are partly to blame, because all footwear restricts circulation. But how you look after your feet is key.

This is particularly true if an angling trip is scheduled to last more than a single day. Make sure you know the warning signs that your feet are feeling the strain.

Symptoms

A professional opinion

A professional opinion
Source: Web MD

The first sign of a foot in trouble is likely to be tingling, or perhaps an itching sensation with pain, swelling and cold, blotchy skin. You may notice areas of redness or blueness indicating blood circulation has been compromised. Alternatively, you may experience numbness or a heavy feeling in a waterlogged foot.

Later on, once you’ve warmed your foot, is the skin suddenly very dry? And are your feet uncharacteristically red, swollen or painful? You may have chilblains but if you’re unlucky – it could be trench foot.

Untreated, trench foot can worsen beyond the point that swelling and blisters develop. Infection can set in and interruption to blood circulation can cause skin to die. At this point there is a significant risk of gangrene.

While you’re unlikely to let a case of cold, wet feet deteriorate to such a degree, it is worth being ‘foot aware’ to prevent very painful and perfectly preventable after effects. If you are worried you might have developed trench foot – seek medical advice.

Prevention

Keeping his feet dry

Keeping his feet dry
Source: Stueby’s Outdoor Journal

The best way to stop trench foot in its tracks is to keep your feet warm and dry, also avoid footwear that’s too tight or too loose. Good fishing boots are a must.

But if your feet are likely to get wet, make sure that you pack plenty of dry socks and change them frequently. At night, when you’re tucked up in your bivvy, always check your feet over and treat any blisters.

Leave wet boots and socks off at night, this will give your feet a chance to fully recover, in time for the following days fishing.

Trench warfare

Trench Warfare

Trench Warfare
Source: Soc 11 Eh!

Trench foot gets its name from the appalling plight of soldiers during World War One. Men fought for days and weeks in thick mud and standing water. At its peak 20,000 soldiers had diseased feet, and over the course of the war the condition affected a staggering 74,000 allied troops. Some of the soldiers suffered gangrene, amputation and even death.

Combattants in wars as recent as the Falklands have been dogged by trench foot. In the civilian population, festival goers, anglers and hikers have all been affected. But by being prepared and knowing the signs and symptoms – you can stay one step ahead.

Fishing boots to moon boots – footwear for the fearless

From king crab fishermen in sturdy fishing boots who work the Bering Sea, to astronauts making boot prints on the moon. Courageous men and women have boldly set foot in places deemed too frightening by many.

Here we celebrate those brave, boot clad heroes who venture forth so that we don’t have to…

Fishermen

crab fishing

Crab fishing – a deadly occupation
Source: yeimaya

Fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth, and the fishing boots of the Alaskan King Crab fishing folk are the most dangerous to fill. At least 75 percent more hazardous than any other occupation.

King Crab fishing in the Bering Sea claims on average one life a week during the short fishing season. While boats only fish for between two and four weeks a year, long hours, freezing temperatures and ferocious storms make working with heavy traps and machinery extremely dangerous.

Astronauts

Scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt

Astronauts – dangers beyond our world
Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

Virtually every kid has bounced about in moon boots, pretending to be an astronaut. However, in reality this otherworldly occupation is fraught with danger. Several tragedies have occurred whilst attempting to break the bonds of earth. The most tragic space disaster must surely have been the failed Challenger mission.

In full view of well wishers the craft disintegrated shortly after takeoff killing all seven astronauts. In 2003, the space shuttle Columbia fragmented over Southwestern United States. Damage to the heat proofing led to the break up of the craft, and the deaths of all those aboard.

Mountaineers

Mountaineers - risking life for adventure

Mountaineers – risking life for adventure
Source: Mitch Barrie

Climbing shoes should not be pulled on lightly, as mountaineering is evidently a dangerous occupation. Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay first climbed Everest in 1953, there has been one death for every ten successful climbs on average.

While there have been major steps forward in the development of climbing clothing and equipment, human ability to function at over 8000 metres remains the same – which is to say, not very good. The safe rate of progress towards the summit is a mere 100 metres every one and a half hours. Patience and reason are essential for survival.

Sailors

Sailors - many perish in their pursuit

Sailors – many perish in their pursuit
Source: Fraser Mummery

A successful sailor’s deck shoes often prove an enviable place to be. But pity the crew of the whale ship Essex whose ship was sunk in 1820 by a sperm whale, some 2000 miles west of South America. The surviving sailors crammed aboard three small whaleboats and set out to find land. They could have sailed west to the Marquesas, but scared of the cannibals who lived there, they opted instead to head for South America.

When the boat under the charge of captain Pollard ran out of food, the occupants drew lots to see who would be sacrificed for the good of the others. The captain’s own cousin drew the short straw and when Pollard offered to protect him, he is said to have lain his head upon the gunwale and uttered the words, ‘No, I like my lot as well as any other’. Pollard was finally rescued 95 days after the sinking of his ship.

Soldiers

Soldiers - in the firing line

Soldiers – in the firing line
Source: John D. Helms, U.S. Army

Men and women in modern military boots are highly likely to see front line action. Fortunately the armed forces do a lot more to minimise casualties than they used to. When the light brigade charged at Russian lines at the battle of Balaclava in 1854, 673 cavalrymen under the command of Lord Cardigan galloped into a hail of bullets, grapeshot and artillery fire.

The British suffered 278 killed or wounded and 60 were taken prisoner. Fleeing these heroes of the Crimean war, Cardigan boarded his yacht in Balaclava harbour and enjoyed a champagne dinner.

Explorers

Harold William Tilman

Explorers – men like Major Bill Tilman are few and far between
Source: Sandy Lee

Modern TV explorers bring us thrills and spills from the wilderness, but to find the real heroes of exploration you need to travel back in time. Take Major Bill Tilman; born in 1898, he received two military crosses for bravery during the First World War, became a coffee grower in Kenya, climbed mount Kilimanjaro, spent the 1930s exploring the Himilayas and took part in two Everest expeditions.

When the Second World War broke out, he saw action in North Africa and at Dunkirk, and then parachuted in behind enemy lines to assist Albanian and Italian partisans. After the war he took up deep sea sailing, and ventured to both the Arctic and Antarctic in search of remote unclimbed mountains. Tilman never retired, he eventually perished at the ripe old age of 80, when his boat foundered somewhere off the Falklands. They don’t make them like that any more.

TF Gear Thermo-Tex Boots

Whist out fishing this weekend, I did get to try out some new boots that the nice people of Fishtec fishing tackle suppliers, sent me to test. I must say first impressions are very good.

The TF Gear Thermo-Tex Boots are constructed of very light weight (although thick) rubber which seems more flexible than normal Wellington material, this makes them very comfortable and easy to wear for a long period of time.

The TFG boots come with a removable fleece lining which took a bit of getting used to as you have to hold onto it while putting them on but once I’d figured this out they were great. Another advantage of this is when wading that little bit too deep… and the inside of the welly gets wet, it is easily removed, dried or washed. With the additional ‘pully strap’ on the top of the boot, comfort is at its most when needing to keep the draft out and tucking your trousers in.  The super grip soles are very very good, solid and looks as if they shouldn’t wear down by walking on concrete or rocks.

 

List price is £69.99 but you can get them from the Fishtec website for £59.99 – a bit steep for a pair of glorified wellies but if you’re serious about winter fishing these would be ideal.

Would I buy a pair? Unless I could have tried them before hand, I would have said no but after seeing (and feeling) the benefits of these fishing boots, I’d have to say yes, especially since during our morning outing Wendy continually complained of cold toes while mine were positively toasty…

Product Features

  • Essential long term comfort & durability
  • Instant heat
  • Sustained Insulation
  • Wind-chill elimination
  • Moisture desperation
Click here TF Gear Boots to view.