Work It Out: Yoga recovery for anglers
Special to the Tribune
Western lakes and rivers lure fly-fisherman with natural beauty, peaceful waters and hard-fighting trout. But, as serene as fishing may be, overuse injuries are common. Many anglers complain of pain in the shoulder, elbow and wrists that can last for hours or even days after a fishing trip.
A number of factors lead to overuse injuries. Casting technique, rod weight, rod design and physical stance can all affect the likelihood of developing overuse injuries. For most anglers, some amount of pain is difficult to avoid. But just a few minutes a day spent opening and strengthening the shoulders, elbows, forearms and wrists will help avoid overuse injuries.
Be aware, these postures are not recommended if you are currently suffering from an overuse injury. They should only be used to build up healthy, pain-free muscles and joints. Do not use them if you are currently in pain. If you experience pain in the posture, slowly come out of it.
Forearm plank offers multiple benefits for fly-fishermen. Forearm plank tones the core muscles, which helps you maintain a strong stance when casting and provides stability to cross through moving water. Forearm plank also strengthens the muscles in the shoulders to help prevent shoulder injuries. Lastly, forearm plank works the forearms and will help you avoid developing fishing elbow.
Kneel on the floor.
Place your forearms on the floor, with palms down.
Ensure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders and palms are directly in front of your elbows.
Step your feet back one at a time until your knees are straight and you are in a push-up position on your forearms.
Pull your naval to your spine and press your heels back, trying to create a straight line from the heels to the hips to the head.
Press your elbows and inner forearms into the floor, pulling your shoulder blades down and away from your ears.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
If you feel tension in your neck, gently rest your forehead on a cushion set between your forearms. It’s easy to hold your breath or simply forget to breathe in this posture, so remind yourself to breathe deeply through your nose during the entire duration.
Gorilla is excellent for anglers, providing a gentle way to release tension in the back and shoulders while opening the wrists. It also offers plenty of benefits off the river. It slows the heartbeat and brings plenty of blood to the head, which can help calm anxiety. This posture is perfect after a stressful day or during mid-day breaks when you want the back body — your spine and the backs of your legs — to remain open and relaxed.
Stand upright, with feet placed parallel and about hip-width apart.
Hinge at the hips (not the waist) and fold forward.
Bend your knees until your torso rests on your thighs and your hands reach the floor. For most of us, this means we are bending our knees a lot.
Lift the toes and ball of the right foot and place your right hand under the foot, palm facing up.
Repeat with the left side, trying to touch your toes to the wrist creases on both hands.
Bend your elbows out to the sides.
Release the head and neck, letting the crown of your head drop down toward the floor.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Remove your hands from under your feet and place them on your hips. With slightly bent knees, slowly come up to standing.
Modified upward plank
This posture has the benefit of simultaneously strengthening and stretching your shoulders. It also strengthens the arms, upper back and wrists, while simultaneously stretching the chest, abdomen, ankles and tops of the feet.
Sit on your heels, with the tops of your feet pressed into the ground. If that is not comfortable, place a cushion between your calves and hamstrings.
Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders, with fingers pointing forward.
Straighten your elbows without locking the joint. You want to form a straight line from your wrist to your shoulder. Move your hands slightly forward or back as needed.
Press into the heels of your hands, noticing how your shoulder blades come together to press the chest out. Keep a slight bend in your elbows throughout.
Look to the ceiling and relax your neck. If this creates discomfort in your neck, adjust the posture so that you can rest your head on a wall or chair seat.
For a more intense stretch, lift your hips and reach your tailbone toward your knees.
Hold for 3-5 breaths.
With practice, these simple postures can improve your comfort during and after fishing. Be sure to get a fishing license before you head out, and consider reaching out to an outfitter. Fly-fishing guides specialize in local waterways and offer fishing trips on both public and private lands.
Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga in Dillon, Colorado. Designed to challenge both the body and the mind, Peak Yoga classes build muscular strength, physical endurance and emotional resilience. Find out more about Peak Yoga at http://www.peakyogastudio.com.
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