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  • Writer's pictureMonique Coombs

Fishermen Wellness: Grip Strength

Commercial fishermen face a unique set of challenges every day. Not only do fishermen need to know how to catch fish, but they must also have some physical capacity to be able to haul up heavy traps, hang on to cumbersome nets, and balance on a vessel that is pitching and rolling.

Photo by Scott Gable

This is what makes fishermen industrial athletes.


In considering a fisherman’s strength, one aspect that is often incredibly strong but often overlooked is grip strength. Fishermen have a strong grip because they regularly deal with heavy and cumbersome fishing gear, like nets, lines, and traps.

Even building traps requires grip strength. Squeezing hog ring pliers, bending wire, and angling your arm into a trap all require a strong ability to grasp or hold onto something. Things like banders and hog ring pliers especially require repetitive and consistent squeezing, which can create flexion and extension in your forearm muscles and therefore build strength.


Sometimes these repetitive movements can also cause pain, soreness, and inflammation. Keeping muscles strong and flexible can help prevent discomfort.


Here’s a simple Forearm Stretch that can help:

  • Extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing down.

  • Use your opposite hand to gently press up on the fingers and palm of your outstretched hand.

  • You should feel a stretch along the underside of your forearm and wrist.

  • Maintain the stretch for about 15-30 seconds, feeling a gentle pull (without any pain).

  • Repeat the stretch on the other arm.

  • You can also repeat the stretch with your palm facing up (and use your opposite hand to gently press down on the fingers and palm of your outstretched hand).

It’s not a bad idea for commercial fishermen to participate in functional fitness training; as a matter of fact, adding a couple of workouts to your week can greatly improve not only your grip strength but overall strength and well-being. Incorporate regular stretching exercises for your hands, wrists, and forearms to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.


How Strong is Your Grip?

You can find out at the Maine Fishermen's Forum! Visit the MCFA table in the front hallway where we will have a dynamometer which measures force when squeezed. We're making it a friendly competition! Strongest grip get bragging rights and MCFA gear.


Monique Coombs, MCFA's Director of Community Programs, is a certified personal trainer. Her current certification is from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) but she has been certified previously by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She is also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach.



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