Rowing is a sport that uses complete movement. It begins from the catch with a powerful push from the legs, which is carried from the back to the arms, that ends at the stroke and goes through the boat to the next stroke. Every muscle must be able to put the right strength in the water and to be elastic enough to support and carry the boost of the legs. You must go back to the catch position without any delays for the boat’s balance, at the same time.
For this reason, the most delicate part of a rower’s body is the back: it must be able to move the weight of the athlete and the boat. So, it’s important for rowers (from kids to the élite to elders) to be cautious and prevent injuries like a hernia or a disc bulge by incorporating a warm up / cool down routine before and after training. Below are a few of the stretches I found to be most effective and loosening my back muscles to allow me to perform and train my best:
This is may be the most simple back stretch to start with. The goal is to sit on your heels and move forward with the hands, relax and focus on your breath. This is a good exercise to stretch lower back, shoulders and glutes.
Reclined Child's Pose
This is my favorite and the most comfortable stretch. To perform you lay down on your back, take your knees and move them on your chest, making sure your back is in contact with the floor. This is an excellent exercise for the lower back, because you can decide the right angle for your perfect stretching point.
This is not as easy as it seems, because it requires the perfect positioning to stretch the glutes adequately. First, lay down and cross your legs. Put your hands under the leg, and shift the upper leg on the opposite side, so that your heel is on the other knee. Now you can push the free knee gently with your elbow, adjusting the muscle tension.
The iliopsoas is the strongest hip flexor of our body, it goes from the lumbar to the femur, and is the most common cause of lower back pain, so it’s important to know how to stretch it. First, kneel down making a 90° angle with both your knees. Then move your body weight on the front foot, putting your hands up so your spine stays vertical. You will feel stretching on the front of the thigh.
Stay in this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
This is surely the hardest one. The goal of this position is to stay with your back as flat as possible, no curves, close the hip angle as much as possible, with your heel in contact with the floor. This is the most complete exercise, because it stretches hamstrings, the spine and calves.
Doing these simple exercises will help prevent back pain and further injury of your back. Happy Training!
The best way to do these stretches is in Boathouse yoga/training gear! Stretching requires a lot of bending and twisting, Boathouse training gear will move with you so you don't feel constrained and uncomfortable.
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