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Brad Laabs: Anglers can get fishing-related injuries, too

This is a little different topic this week, but one that active and avid anglers will need to face at some time during their fishing career. The subject is sports related injuries. All sports, even the leisure type activities, will have injuries or physical stresses to the body that can hamper the enjoyment or performance of their activity. Bowlers can have wrist and knee issues, golfers can have knee, wrist, shoulder, and back problems. Tennis players can be hampered by “tennis elbow,” knee and ankle strains. Runners can have foot, ankle, and knee issues. Us fishermen can be hampered by wrist, elbow, and shoulder strains as well.

This topic came to mind for me as I was hoping get relief this winter from an aggravated shoulder problem. The original injury to my shoulder was a fishing related accident that happened eight years ago. A very long story I won’t get into now, maybe when I get motivated to write a book about unique guide experiences I will share that one!

Anyway, I thought the rest my shoulder would get by not doing daily trips and using the light ice fishing rods less frequently than the heavier open water rods would be enough. It wasn’t. As we get closer to the open water season I realized what I was doing (or not doing) was not going to resolve my discomfort. I needed to seek professional help to get some relief and to get myself ready for the upcoming open water season.

My treatment has included acupuncture (along with message, stretching, ultrasound, chiropractic adjustment, and heat). I can tell I am going to be ready to go for the season and am very encouraged by the progress and relief I am experiencing.

Some years ago I suffered through most of a season with a tennis elbow brought on by repetition of jigging and live bait rigging. My own home remedy attempts at solving that painful condition weren’t working. A local doctor provided me with a forearm band and some therapy instructions that not only helped me with the pain, but resolved the problem, and it has not returned.

I know other active anglers that have struggled with knee, hip, and lower back pain from putting many hours on the bow mount trolling motor. Musky anglers can be at risk for many complications that can be brought on by hours of handling heavier rods and throwing heavier baits.

Many times the physical issues can be re-aggravated by fishing, but stem from previous injuries caused by work, accidents, or just living life. These injuries or discomforts can take away from the enjoyment and relaxation that fishing can provide. It is important to learn how to adjust to your condition so you can continue to enjoy this lifelong sport.

Along with seeking professional help to resolve the physical ailments or injuries, it can be helpful to change up tactics or even just take a break if you start to experience pain and discomfort. Continuing a repetitive action when experiencing pain will only make the problem worse. I speak from my own stupidity and experience. I also recommend not procrastinating getting some outside help to resolve whatever ailment is interfering with the enjoyment of your fishing.

I have noticed that these considerations seem to be more of an issue for us “more mature” anglers and some of the younger anglers haven’t had to think about these issues yet. You will. Making good decisions and thinking about these things now may help for the future of the younger anglers.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)