Fly Fishermen and Women need to be in Good Shape

Fly Fishermen and Women need to be in Good Shape

Too many fly fishermen, and women, don’t think they need to stay in shape. Well if you’re under 30 or do your all fly fishing from the couch watching YouTube videos, I’ll let you off the hook. If that is not the case, listen up. You’ll fish better, longer, and with less injury if you spend time keeping in shape. I’m in the gym 3 times a week for that very reason.

The three most typical injuries faced by fly anglers are: tennis elbow, shoulder issues, and low back pain. All three can be quite painful. Ouch! And all three can knock you out of the game. But all three can often be prevented by keeping in shape.

Preventing Tennis Elbow: The repetitive motion of fly casting can tear the tendons in your forearm, especially with fast action rods. To avoid this injury you need good muscle tone in your forearm. One of simplest way to go about it is squeezing a rubber ball. Do it palm up and palm down. Not only is this method cheap and easy, it can be done anywhere, even at work. Believe me it works. **** Here’s a tip. Between casts, loosen your grip on the rod. This gives the muscles in your forearm a chance to rest. They’ll thank you for it.

Preventing Shoulder Issues: Not only is casting a repetitive motion, it asks you, at times, to raise your arm upwards. Both movements put stress on your shoulder and can lead to pain or even a serious injury called a torn rotator cuff. Very bad news. To prevent it, build your shoulder strength now. A simple exercise with a resistance band is useful. Here is a link Be sure to watch this video too!  It will offer better insight into how the shoulder works. 

Preventing Low Back Pain: Low back pain is a real nuisance, especially if you like to fish from a kayak. Typically this type of pain is caused by being overweight, or having weak abdominal muscles, or both. Losing weight is the key first step for many anglers. Diet and exercise will do that. But strengthening your “abs” is critical too. Crunches and planks are effective, but an “ab” roller is even better. They are cheap ( I got one for $10 from amazon). Be aware that the smaller the diameter of the roller’s wheel, the harder you’ll work. And avoid rollers that come spring loaded; they quickly fail. But whatever one you get, it will work far better then either crunches or planks, but you must use it properly. Do not do full rollouts at first! Hell no, you’ll hurt yourself. Halfway is plenty until you are in good shape.  

Warning: The above advise is not intended for people who already have tennis elbow, or shoulder problems, or a bad back. If that is you, consult your doctor first, especially if you have swelling, serious aches, pain raising your arm, or a preexisting injury.

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2 Responses to Fly Fishermen and Women need to be in Good Shape

  1. Ted Rzepski says:

    Agree that many overuse injuries can be prevented with exercise. Skilled casting teachers can identify and correct movements that can lead to injuries.
    I would add the importance of endurance exercises to ensure ability to spend several hours fishing. For us older anglers we grudgingly discover our balance deteriorates as we pass 55. Regular balance exercises are a huge help. Wading staffs will become your best friend.
    As long as Corona virus rages I refuse to enter a gym. Last February when we became aware of the risks of Corona infections I was at large gym. Ventilation seemed stagnant and about a third of the people using the gym did not follow the protocol of wiping in and out (cleaning) when using the equipment

    • Ed Mitchell says:

      Hey Ted,
      Yes exercise is a very potent medicine, especially as we age. All it really requires is motivation, although some find that in short supply.
      And you’re right about balance exercises. I need to do more of that. Thanks for the reminder.

      There are certainly valid concerns about gyms and the virus. Still the risk can be greatly reduced with a dash of precaution. First I wear both a mask and gloves.
      Second I consult with the manager to learn the least populated hours. Given that attendance has dropped significantly, that was easy to do.
      Frequently I’m in the gym with only two other people and sometime totally alone. If your gym has a senior hour, try that. Senior’s are far more careful then other folks.

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