By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Winning the first two tournaments and collecting a pair of six-figure paychecks assures an angler of a profitable season. Trophies and money, though, can't do much to alleviate the type of physical pain that Mark Rose suffered toward the end of the 2017 FLW Tour campaign.
The veteran from Arkansas has carpal tunnel and tendonitis in his right arm, which causes severe pain in his fingers, wrist and forearm. At the Mississippi River event last May, the discomfort became so severe that he was forced to visit a hospital emergency room at 2 a.m.
"I'd been struggling with it for awhile, but it'd never been that bad," he said. "I couldn't feel my arm. It's like when you lay on your arm for a long time and it goes to sleep, but you can get up and shake it and (the numbness) goes away. With this, the feeling just stays there – it won't go away."
The trip to the emergency room produced little in the way of positive results.
"Evidently, they don't know much about carpal tunnel in Wisconsin. They basically told me I had it, which I already knew, and gave me a little Mickey Mouse pad thing to go on my hand that didn't do much."
Already Had What He Needed
It turned out that Rose was already in possession of a much more helpful aid than the pad he got at the Wisconsin hospital. At the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray, each competitor had been given a product called the Xtensor, a $30 device manufactured by a New York-based company called Clinically Fit that fits over the hand and features stretchable bands that attach to each finger. It provides resistance training via the opening of the hand.
"I played with it a little bit, but I didn't use it very much at that time," Rose said. "Here recently, when I started really having trouble, I reconnected with (Clinically Fit CEO Scott Kupferman), and things evolved from there."
He now does 15-minute daily workouts with the Xtensor on his right hand, and is also doing a bit with his left as a preventative measure. That routine is part of an exercise regimen that also includes cardio and light strength training using other resistance equipment
"I can't lie and say that I don't feel it at all – I still feel it some, but it's not close to the pain I was feeling. I'll beef up the training this month and hopefully I won't feel it at all by the time the season starts."
As a bonus, his conversations with Kupferman resulted in a small sponsorship deal for 2018.
"It came about because of my inquiry," he said. "It's not like I was trying to get a sponsorship here. I was just trying to get rid of the pain.
"It's been a huge blessing for me and I'd recommend it to anyone who has carpal tunnel."
Happy to Have Variety
Rose spent a number of years transforming himself into one of the game's top offshore technicians and will have a couple of opportunities to utilize those skills in 2018. However, he said the primary reason he likes the make-up of next year's Tour schedule is its variety.
"We've got a little diversity in there," he said. "There's some shallow fishing down south, and then Florida, which is a different animal all to itself. There's some deep, clear stuff around here, and then we go up north for the smallmouth. The guy who wins the Angler of the Year will have had to be a well-rounded fisherman and have shown that throughout the year."
The upcoming season will be his 20th on the Tour. He's finished 10th in the points in each of the last two, and also has two 3rd-place finishes, along with a 5th and a 6th.
Unlike most of his fellow competitors, he says that winning the AOY is something he never concerns himself with.
"I don't have one thought about it in my mind," he said. "My only thought is to try to be healthy and perform to the best of my ability, and anybody who knows me knows that my faith is pretty important to me and I always want to be as close as I can to the one who made all these fish.
"I take everything one step at a time and fish what's in front of me. I just feel blessed that at age 45, I still have the passion and drive to keep doing what I love to do."