Fishermen Wellness: Mobility
Mobility is simply the ability to move easily and freely. It can refer to being able to move in general, but it can also refer to whether you can move an injured body part. For example, if you have suffered a shoulder injury, you may have reduced mobility for a period of time post-injury. (In which case, please go see a physical therapist!)
For fishermen, mobility is incredibly important on the boat. Bending, turning, pulling, and balance on the boat all require mobility to not only help you haul traps and pull nets, but to ensure safety and the ability to react quickly to a boat that is pitching and rolling.
How can you prevent mobility issues?
Stretch. Flexibility training and mobility training are similar but not the same thing. But, stretching and moving on a regular basis (outside of your normal daily activities) can help maintain mobility.
Drink water and stay hydrated. Staying hydrated helps lubricate your joints and can also prevent excessive achiness at the end of the fishing day.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. (I’m not sure this is a problem for most busy fishermen!)
Go for regular walks. These don’t have to be fast-paced long walks. Even light saunters up and down the road can make a difference.
How can you improve mobility?
All the above suggestions not only help prevent mobility issues, but they can also help improve mobility if they are done consistently over time.
Strength training can also help improve mobility. Again, you don’t have to lift the heaviest weights, but even 15-20 minutes of light weight training done consistently over time can help improve your mobility on the boat.
Isn’t working on the boat like strength training? Unfortunately, no. Strength training is exercises done with the specific goal of getting stronger. Working on the boat, taking the stairs, cleaning the house, and other similar activities are referred to as NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It’s basically everything that we do that is not sleeping, eating, or sport-like activities. This includes tasks associated with fishing, regardless of how difficult they can be.
When you’re steaming home, spend a few minutes rotating your limbs. Shrug and rotate your shoulders (see video below). Pull your knees to your chest to open your hips. You can also incorporate easy mobility exercises that use a resistance band (something light and easy to keep in the wheelhouse) that can feel good at the end of a long day.
Improved mobility helps prevent injury, helps you react faster and better, and allows you to bear heavier loads in vulnerable or extreme situations. These exercises do not require special outfits, a yoga mat, special equipment, or a lot of time, so give them a shot!
Next time we’ll talk about stability which is the ability of the body to maintain posture and support joints during movement.
To read other blog post about physical health for fishermen check out:
Monique Coombs, MCFA's Director of Community Programs, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. Monique manages MCFA's Fishermen Wellness program.