Carlos’s Tip # 179: How important is to be flexible in rowing?

It is important to be very flexible in rowing?

Coach Kaehler tell us:

“Can your strength training regime also help improve your flexibility? Many athletes use passive stretching as a way to increase their flexibility which can help improve their training results, however recent research demonstrated that strength training alone was another way to increase joint range of motion. Relaxation also appears to be another factor in improving joint flexibility and has been confirmed by research”.

Selecting strengthening and stretching exercises that are similar to the movement pattern of your sport can also help to improve sport specific flexibility. I believe you need some flexibility on your ankles, hamstrings and good hip rotation to get length at the catch without checking the stern. Flexibility will also give you the chance to position higher your footstretcher.

Rowing economy basically means efficiency. A rower with better economy uses less energy to go the same speed and distance as a rower with poor economy. Rowing economy can vary between rowers as much as 30%.

Many studies have shown that inability to relax is a major limitation in the range of motion about a joint than flexibility.

Many rowers believe they can increase their rowning economy by becoming more flexible. At first, this theory appears reasonable. As rowers age, they typically lose efficiency and flexibility. Perhaps there is a connection there. Further, one might imagine that better flexibility would allow greater length or perhaps reduce muscular resistance to movement at the end ranges of motion. However, if you think about it there is a range of length that you need and in this range you need some big leverage and posture to have. Too much flexibility might work against you.

Why would less flexibility rowers can be more efficient? One reason might be that elastic recoil of muscle and tendon is an important contributor to rowing power. Stiff calves and hamstrings may enhance the storage and return of elastic energy, just as a tightly inflated ball will bounce higher and longer than a deflated one. They might be other reasons to.

Based on these facts, you might guess that stretching before rowing would be detrimental to efficiency. I believe it can, depending on what you do and how.

Flexibility is often massively overrated as a desirable physical quality for sports performance.

There are many very fast rowers who stretch very little or none. I think it is important to warm up your body and stretch during your rowing. You can do that taking slow long strokes at the beginning of your row and do some pauses at the end of the stroke with arms away to stretch. Doing that can help you stretch your ankles, lower back, hamstrings and facilitate a good hip rotation. Also it helps you to warm up the right muscles that move the boat.

I recommend very specific stretching very adapted to our sport. Coach Kaehler is a very good expert on rowing strength and flexibility!

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