Keeping Shoulders Healthy To Hunt, Kayak and Fish This Fall


For an outdoors man who enjoys hunting and fishing, Virginia’s rich Tidewater region – Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Smithfield, Newport News, Hampton and beyond – is one of the greatest places on the East Coast to live.

The Chesapeake Bay offers an abundance of opportunities for anglers, while the woodlands are home to a healthy herd of the coveted white tail deer.

This time of year – the early fall – is a magical season for the Virginia gamesmen. Why? The confluence of white tail deer and the prized striped bass seasons return.

And thanks to Virginia’s mild weather (usually), you can have an early morning hunt in southern Virginia Beach and launch your kayak at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in time for the changing tide in the afternoon.

What does this all have to do with physical therapy? Being outdoors, living, hunting and fishing is physical. It doesn’t matter if you are kayaking between the pilings of bridge tunnel or using your tree climber to set up for a day of white tail hunting, you are working your body, and more specifically, your shoulders.

If you don’t watch it, shoulder pain can keep you out of the water and the woods.

I know this firsthand. As an active hunter and kayak fisherman in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I have experienced my fair share of shoulder problems and missed opportunities as a result.

Whether it was the inability to hold the draw on my compound bow on an approaching deer or reaching behind my back to get a rod out of the holder on the kayak, you need your shoulders to perform.

Key to keeping your shoulders healthy is stretching and warming up.

Like every good athlete, warm up and stretching exercises are key to avoiding injury on the field.

Before climbing a tree or paddling a kayak against an out going tide, stretch. Do some dynamic warm ups. Make it part of your routine.

I am not proposing you get a good sweat going before you sit in the tree stand for five hours. But at least stretch out some.

Simple stretching includes cross body stretch, 1 arm pectoral stretch, wall/tree/paddle reach, Theraband rows.

Brian Beaulieu, PT, MPT, OCS, is the Regional Director for Tidewater Physical Therapy’s South Hampton Roads operations. He practices physical therapy in Virginia Beach in Tidewater’s Red Mill clinic.


Many of the physical therapists at Tidewater Physical Therapy Inc. hold Direct Access Certification through the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy.

Brian  holds Direct Access Certification and is available to evaluate and treat patients without a prescription from a physician.