Fishing is commonly thought of as the ultimate stress-reliever, but it can also lead to back pain or serious back injuries if proper measurements aren’t followed. In fact, according to a Duke University Medical Center study, 69 percent of fishermen suffer from back pain at some point during their fishing career. Heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and long days of standing with the body in the same position often causes stress, tension and muscle fatigue in the back and makes fishermen susceptible to a number of debilitating back injuries.
One fishing enthusiast all too familiar with how fishing can cause back pain is professional angler Peter Miller. Following an injury that herniated two discs and pinched a nerve in his lower back, the three-time World Sailfish Champion and host of the TV show “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller” suffered chronic pain that prevented him from fishing at the top of his game. After deciding to have surgery with Tampa-based Laser Spine Institute, Miller was able to return to doing what he loves and has since worked closely with his surgeon, Dr. Stefan Prada, to develop a list of tips for how to prevent back pain during a day of fishing:
> Wear really comfortable shoes: Traditionally, fishermen wear flip flops or boat shoes or simply go barefoot. These shoes offer little support and have no cushion to absorb shock. Try wearing shoes that are more traditional for jogging than for fishing.
> Stretch: Even 5 minutes worth of stretching before you get on the boat or at mid-day can make a tremendous difference. Try touching your toes or the floor and reaching your hands over your head to stretch your back.
> Maintain a strong core: A strong core will make you better prepared for the various motions involved when fishing, such as throwing a cast and reeling in a fish. Planks, push-ups, V-sits and leg lifts are all great exercises to develop a strong core.
> Take Advil: Anti-inflammatory medications in mild doses will always help. Try ingesting some prior to taking the boat out to help prevent inflammation during the day.
> Stay active: Don’t be sedentary. The kiss of death is sitting all day on a boat. One great way to help your back muscles stay active, warm and loose while on the boat is the cat-and-dog exercise. Position yourself on your hands and knees and alternate between rounding your back by looking down on the ground and arching it by looking up into the sky.
> Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is essential to helping reduce pain. It helps keep the muscles hydrated and decreases the frequency of muscle cramps.