The sport of rowing inherently places great stress on the entire body and being conditioned to such stress can mean the difference between rowing all season or simply recovering on the injured list. Conditioning for the rowing movement is essential for injury prevention, maintenance of fitness level and peak performance in competition.
In regards to rowing performance and injury prevention, core/spine strength is optimal. This equates to coordinated (balanced) muscle contraction and the ability of the spine to retain its original shape under increasing loads. Spine stability is paramount in rowing.
There are 3 factors that increase the possibility of injury: muscle imbalance and/or weakness, inflexibility in hips, hamstrings and lower back and improper technique.
- Muscle weakness, imbalance and spine stability can be overcome through core exercises and body awareness. For more information on proper core exercises, speak with your head coach.
- Inflexibility can be overcome through responsible stretching and flexibility exercises. Yoga, Pilates and dynamic stretching are all ways to increase flexibility. Inflexible hamstrings, hips and lower back directly impact back injuries and should be performed as an individual or group before and/or following each practice session.Flexibility education and exercises will help to avoid injury.
- Improper Technique causes undesired strain on the lower back, hip flexors, knees and wrists. Over gripping the oars can create tendinitis in the wrists as an overuse injury, collapsing and lifting/twisting off of the catch will put a load on the lower back, as will pressing off of one leg more than the other, and pulling yourself up the slide will irritate the hip flexor muscles and in turn the lower back. The MRC facilities are equipped with mirrors, immediate video feedback, and dynamic ergometers. The coaching staff is willing to work outside of scheduled practice time to work with you on land. Making changes is easier on land than on the water.
- Stop when you feel that you may have an injury and tell your coach immediately.
- Always warm-up prior to start of practice.
- Stretch. See stretching exercises.
- Hamstring inflexibility is a major cause of back strain and injury in rowing.
- Post work-out stretching is ideal and generates better results.
- Strengthen your abs and back. See core strengthening exercises.
- Use care when lifting the equipment – do not use your back to lift.
- Use proper technique on the erg and on the water.
- Erg well before you erg hard. Most injuries to the back are caused by improper erging under too much load for too long. Keep drag factor low. Use the ergs and mirrors as technique learning tools.