Rowing Stretching Guide

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1 Rowing Stretching Guide Every exercise session should include the following important stages: 1. Warm up 2. Pre-exercise stretching 3. Main exercise 4. Warm down 5. Post-exercise stretching Whilst the main exercise is the primary purpose of the session, the ancillary processes are essential in order to receive the optimal benefit from the hard effort put into the exercise. Though the actual main exercise varies, be it an outing, a race, an ergo, weights or circuits, the other components of the session remain very similar from session to session as they are always performed for the same reasons. Warm Up Motivation for a Warm Up The warm up is a fundamental part of any session. It is important for several reasons, not only physically, but also mentally. Physically Enhances physical performance Increases body temperature Aids injury prevention Prepares the body for activity Technically Affords improved co-ordination Facilitates an increased range of motion Psychologically Promotes mental preparation by switching focus towards exercise Reduces tension (particularly prior to competition) Improves concentration Motivates the athlete Effects of Increased Body Temperature Most physiological mechanisms are temperature dependent: Blood transport Improves blood flow Improves removal of waste products Oxygen separates out from haemoglobin faster and more completely Improves the movement of oxygen to myoglobin Muscles Reduces viscosity of muscle protoplasm Improves muscle contraction speed and power

2 Connecting tissues Increases ligament elasticity Increases tendon flexibility Increases elasticity of soft tissues Increases the range of joint movement Nerves Increases the speed of nerve impulses Improves nerve receptor sensitivity General Types of Warm Up Any exercise that raises activity in the cardiovascular system Rowing machine Running Cycling Specific The same mode as the main exercise, but at a lower intensity For a standard session, the warm up should last between 5 and 10 minutes. This should involve the large muscle groups in a rhythmical activity to raise the pulse rate to about 70% of the maximum (typically about 140 beats per minute). Pre-Exercise Stretching Motivation for a Pre-Exercise Stretch Once the body is warmed up, and before the main exercise is started, it is important to stretch off the muscles. This offers the following advantages. Increased range of motion Protection against muscular injury Protection against the development of muscle tension (particularly in the lower back) Stretching Routine The best way to stretch off is through a thorough whole body regimen performed in stages and lasting about 10 minutes. Each stretch should be pushed until a gentle stretch is felt in the appropriate muscle group whereupon it should be held for seconds. Finally, relax the stretch and loosen the muscle group. Do not bounce a stretch, as this will cause muscular injury. What follows is a series of stretches designed specifically to enhance a rowing physique. It contains at least one stretch for each of the important muscle groups used in rowing. The sequence of stretches will loosen the body one region at a time, leaving the athlete ready to exercise.

3 1. Neck (upper trapezius) Sit on a chair or stand. Place the fingers of one hand on the opposite shoulder. Gently push the down on the upper ribs with the hand and let the head tilt sideways, ear to shoulder. Roll the head backwards slowly until the stretch is felt. Hold. Repeat for both sides. 2. Back of arm (triceps) Stand or sit with a neutral back. Raise the arm to be stretched and allow the forearm to drop behind the head. Grasp the elbow with the other hand and slowly pull horizontally until the stretch is felt at the shoulder and back of the arm. Keep the bent arm relaxed throughout. Hold. Repeat for both arms. 3. Back of shoulder Stand or sit. Fold one arm over the chest, keeping the shoulder low. Bend the other arm over the elbow of the first. Draw the straight arm around the body by pulling back towards the body with the bent arm. Feel the stretch in the shoulder of the straight arm. Hold. Repeat for both arms.

4 4. Shoulder blade (lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi) Sit on the floor with one leg straight and the other leg crossed over it. Placing one arm straight behind the body for support, rest the other arm on the outside of the raised knee. Sitting up, turn the body from the lower back towards the outstretched arm whilst pushing back on the bent knee with the bent elbow. Try to hold the knee still. Feel the stretch in the shoulder and slightly down the side of the bent arm. Hold. Repeat for both arms. 5. Top of wrist Hold the forearm horizontally (ideally supported on a table with the hand over the edge) with the palm facing down and the wrist limp. Using the other hand, gently press on the back of the hand until a slight stretch is felt in the back of the wrist. Hold. Repeat for both hands. 6. Lower wrist Hold the forearm horizontally in front of the body with the palm facing down. Using the other hand, hold the straight fingers of the hand to be stretched. Gently pull back on the wrist until a slight stretch is felt on the underside of the forearm. Keep the elbow straight. Hold. Repeat for both arms.

5 7. Upper back and neck Sit with a straight back and feet flat on the floor. Bring the chin towards the chest then allow the upper body to sag forwards from the top. Use the neck muscles to hold the chin into the chest. Reach down with the arms to stretch the shoulders. Hold. Remain seated squarely throughout. 8. Lower back Lie on the back. Raise one thigh to form a right angle with the ground and bend the knee to make the shin horizontal. Keeping both shoulders flat on the floor, fold the bent knee over the straight leg. With the arm from the same side, reach out and look in the same direction. Use the other arm to push the bent knee towards the floor until the stretch is felt in the lower back and buttock. Hold. Repeat for both sides. 9. Buttocks Sit on the floor with one leg straight and the other leg crossed over it. With the arm opposite to the bent leg, draw the bent leg around the body and towards the opposite shoulder. Feel the stretch in the buttock. Hold. Repeat for both sides.

6 10. Front of thigh Lie face down. Bend one knee and clasp its ankle. Keeping the pelvis pressed into the floor, gently pull the heel towards your buttocks. Feel the stretch on the front of your thighs. Hold. Repeat for both legs. 11. Front of hip Kneel on one leg with the other bent slightly (about 45 from straight) in front of the body. Use a cushion under the knee to avoid discomfort. Rotate the rear heel outwards slightly to allow the foot to lie flat. Tighten the abdominal muscles and keep the spine in neutral while pushing the hip forwards until a stretch is felt at the front and top of the thigh. Lean back slightly if an increased stretch is desired. Hold. Repeat for both legs. 12. Front of thigh and hip Lie on one side with both legs bent slightly. Take hold of the ankle of the upper leg. Keeping the hips pushed forwards, gently draw the foot towards the buttock at the same time as pushing the knee back. Feel the stretch in the front of the thigh. Hold. Repeat for both legs.

7 13. Buttocks Lie on the back and bend both knees. Cross the ankle of the leg to be stretched over the other knee. Clasp the hands behind the thigh as shown. Ensure the back is in a neutral position. Pull the thigh towards the stomach to generate a stretch in the buttock of the leg that is crossed. Hold. Repeat for both legs. 14. Back of thigh Rest the heel of one bent leg on a waist-high support. Keep the supporting leg straight. Rest the hands on the knee of the bent leg. Keeping the supporting leg straight and the back in a neutral position, lean forwards slightly then begin to straighten the raised leg until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Hold. Repeat for both legs. 15. Calves (soleus, gastrocnemius) Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched straight behind you and the other leg bent in front of you. Lean against a support. Using the upper body to press the rear leg down and back into the ground whilst keeping the rear leg straight, push the pelvis forwards and down. Feel the stretch in the calf of the straight leg. Hold. Repeat for both legs.

8 16. Calves (soleus) Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched behind you. Hold onto a support. Keeping the rear heel on the ground, bend the rear knee to let the body drop and stretch the calf. without lifting the heel off the floor. Hold. Repeat for both legs.

9 Warm Down Motivation for a Warm Down Sudden cessation of exercise can create physiological problems Reduces lactate build up in the muscles, hence reducing muscular stiffness and soreness Promotes faster recovery time from fatigue Types of Warm Down A thorough warm down after intense physical activity includes 5 to 10 minutes of gentle, rhythmical exercise, with the aim of reducing the pulse rate slowly. This can often be included in an outing during the last stretch back to the boathouse. After a weightlifting session, though, it is necessary to perform some other type of warm down. Suitable warm down activities include: Steady state rowing at ½ pressure, rates not exceeding 22 Rowing machine Cycling Post-Exercise Stretching Motivation for Post-Exercise Stretching Following the main exercise and warm down, the muscles are warm and flexible. It is during the cool down period that inter-muscular bonds reform. Hence it is during this period that a good stretch session will offer most benefit. These are listed below. Prevents muscle shortening Reduces post-exercise muscle soreness Develops permanent increase of range of muscle movement Stretching Routine The types of stretch, the order in which they should be performed and the method for each stretch are the same as for pre-exercise stretching. However, the duration of each stretch should be longer, and varies depending on the objective of the stretch. General Warm Down Stretching 1. Reach to the point of the onset of the stretch. 2. Hold for 20 seconds. 3. Relax. Developmental Stretching If performed on a regular basis, these stretches will lead to an increased range of muscular movement. In turn, this will allow the rower to control the body more accurately while rowing, leading to significant technical improvement. 1. Reach to the point of the onset of the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds. 2. Push slightly further to reassert the stretch feeling. Hold for 10 seconds. 3. Repeat pushing slightly further for up to 3 times. 4. Relax.

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