In the last installment we focused mainly on back pain prevention and treatment. Another common medical problem encountered by bass anglers is overuse injury. I’m going to talk about preventing bass fishing overuse injuries today. Most commonly this involves the upper extremities. Today we will focus on prevention and treatment of these ailments which can lead to pain, weakness, poor performance and even surgery. Stretching, technique and proper equipment can help lower your risk of pain or long term problems.
Preventing Bass Fishing Overuse Injuries
As we fish, especially for bass, we use muscles not ordinarily used in everyday life. Awkward movements while casting, reeling and fighting fish can cause pain and swelling in the short term and lead to tendonitis and arthritis in the long term. Many problems can be prevented and pain reduced by taking care of your body before, during and after fishing. As in the last article, stretching should be a mainstay of the tournament and weekend angler’s daily routine. For the upper extremities, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand range of motion and stretching are very important.
Many exercises can be found online, but most of us are familiar with stretches from the old P.E. days. By stretching the muscles you take strain off the joints, and also improve range of motion which allows for the often encountered unusual positions we put ourselves in. In a day of fishing, we make hundreds to thousands of casts and retrieves. Particular attention should be paid to the elbows, wrists and shoulders. If you have pain and are not sure of how to stretch see your doctor and consider a physical therapy consultation. Search online for stretches of the upper extremity including tennis elbow stretches.
As far as on the water prevention and treatment, proper technique can play a large role in preventing problems. Proper ergonomics can reduce strain. When casting or pitching try to rotate the rod and reel to the side so that your wrist flexes and extends naturally. Flexing towards and away from your palm is much more natural than pinky to thumb (if that makes sense- easier to demonstrate) and will prevent tendon strain. Also keeping your rod close to your body when pitching reduces shoulder strain, and avoiding rotation at the elbow can save you discomfort as well. Try to keep your movement minimal and allow your equipment to do the work (that’s why we pay big money for the stuff after all). Strengthening your forearm and hand grips by light weight lifting, stress ball squeezing, will help protect the joints as well.
Our equipment plays a very large role in how much strain is placed on our joints as well. Buying quality, balanced equipment will help save pain, suffering and down time in the future. Dobyns rods are built with balance and comfort in mind, and quality lightweight reels such as Lews will aid in reducing weight and strain. Dobyns also offers rods built for specific indications which will allow you to fish in comfort all day or week long regardless of your chosen technique. Using the right rod for the right presentation can reduce strain and muscle fatigue. Four lines of rods offer different price ranges, weights and actions allowing you to adjust to the presentation. By using the proper rod casting, retrieving and fighting fish are all made easier because the rod can do some of the work for you. You may save money buying cheaper equipment, but the cost of time lost, doctor bills, medicines and pain can be offset by the quality and balance you will gain.
As with most medical issues, an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure, so make sure to stretch, use good technique and quality equipment to reduce future problems. If you have minor discomfort, Motrin or Aleve can reduce inflammation and the old adage “heat before, ice after” can reduce pain and suffering. If you have problems, persistent or increasing pain, or side effects of the medicines (abdominal pain) see your doctor.