Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published July 31, 2017
With 19 years of professional tournament bass fishing under his belt, Mark Rose has become a renowned veteran of the FLW Tour. Within this time, he's amassed 47 top-ten finishes and 8 wins out of 244 tournaments, with career earnings of $2,327,294. Seems nothing can stand in the way of the West Memphis, Arkansas, resident and his status as one of the most proficient bass anglers on the water.
Well, almost nothing.
Whoever says fishing isn't a physically-demanding sport doesn't understand the toll the sun, wind and waves can take on one's body; let alone how certain repetitive motions play havoc on joints, muscles, tendons and the nervous system. And it was nearly two decades of gripping the handles of the very fishing rods that helped Rose create a dream career that nearly took him out of competition this year.
The culprit? A severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
"If you've got healthy hands and wrists then you're good to go when it comes to tournament fishing," says Rose. "But if your hands and wrists go south, it can be detrimental.
"Carpal tunnel is very painful. So much so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to fish the 2017 season because of the agony, let alone going through surgery and recovery."
Following leads from his peers, however, Rose was recommended to speak with Scott Kupferman, CEO of Clinically Fit for advice.
Kupferman, 52, has a career in health and wellness spanning over 30 years, including an 18-year clinical exercise practice in private homes in New York City for people with wide ranging health and performance issues. He created the Anglers Elbow Performance Therapy System - the system anglers are turning to because of how quickly it is healing dreaded angler's elbow pain (aka: tennis elbow); a condition extremely common amongst anglers.
The system features one of Kupferman's many creations - The Xtensor reverse-flexing hand strengthener. The Xtensor is a device that strengthens the muscles and tendons as you flex your hand open instead of the typical squeezing type of hand strengthener.
"Think of it this way: Squeezing your hands during all daily activities is like weight lifting to the muscles and tendons that go through the carpal canal in your wrist," says Kupferman. "The muscles that squeeze and grip thicken, compressing the median nerve and cutting off blood flow to the hand as it travels through the canal, which creates the pain, numbness and tingling leading to carpal tunnel.
"By stretching and lengthening the tendons in the carpal canal while simultaneously strengthening the muscles that open the hands reduces tendon thickness, improves blood flow and relieves pressure on the nerves, which makes the pain subside."
So what's the regimen Kupferman has Rose doing while he's on the road? First there's heat and cold therapy to reduce inflammation, which is crucial to the healing process.
"Heat, cold, heat, cold as much as possible," Kupferman asserts. "And then, with the Xtensor on, Mark is to flex his hand open and hold it open as long as comfortable (5 to 30 seconds) while under tension. This creates a passive stretch for the muscles in the palms and tendons in the carpal canal. Mark is to then exercise with his hands in different positions to dynamically rebalance the strength and flexibility in the hand and wrist."
The Xtensor reverse-flex hand, wrist and elbow strengthener, which has tension specific to each finger, is easy to use. It fits either hand so you only have to buy one. And Kupferman insisted it be made in the USA.
Just slide it on over your hand, slip your fingers into the appropriate finger bands and then open, hold and slowly close your hand. The reverse-flex concept created by Kupferman is the opposite of gripping and clenching - this strengthens and stretches the hand muscles and tendons in all the right places.
"I wish had discovered this years ago, then I wouldn't be in the situation I am now," say Rose. "Tournament anglers just don't have the energy to work out after being on the water all day; but the Xtensor is something I have by the bed and use while I'm relaxing and reading the bible. That's the beauty of it. And it's comfortable to wear.
"And you don't have to have anything wrong with your hand, wrist or elbow to use it [it's a performance therapy product]. Anglers should use the Xtensor before they feel pain so you don't have issues later on. Earlier this year I knew I was headed for surgery; However, I truly believe that with the heat and cold therapy, stretching and strengthening with the Xtensor, I will be able to manage my problem enough to not have to go through with it."
Once his fishing season concludes, Rose says resting his hand and wrist for at least a week while continuing Kupferman's advice using, heat and cold therapies and stretching routine should totally nip his carpel tunnel issues in the bud. In the meantime, he'll continue the keeping his Xtensor at his bedside.
Fishing is more physically demanding than most people realize, and one needs to get into shape before hitting the water hard if they want to keep free from injuries. Besides exercising and proper nutrition as a whole, little things like using the Xtensor by Clinically FIT to keep carpel tunnel syndrome and angler's elbow pain at bay will keep you on the water.