I’m too inflexible to reach the catch in rowing – what can I do?


As I come up the slide my knees separate due to flexibility and I am unable to sit at catch without knees extremely wide. I also find it hard to keep rocked over at hips at the catch because of flexibility. I find it extremely hard to scull a coastal boat as the feet sit slightly higher and the knee separation is exaggerated due to the flexibility to a stage where my knees block my hands and I literally cant row it. Can you advise specific stretches to combat this as I need to address this quickly for up coming races. Thanks.

How to gain flexibility for rowing

You don’t say how old you are – but that doesn’t matter too much because every age group can improve flexibility with practice – it is just easier to do

Mayor Dee Smith flexibility test 2011 Mayor Dee Smith flexibility test 2011 (Photo credit: healthiermi)

when you are younger.

Your short term best bet is to buy a seat pad so your seat is elevated relative to your feet.  That will give you enough comfort to get to the catch.  Also lower your feet as low as they can go.

Here are some stretches you can try which we wrote about in the Rowperfect News blog.

Also read the e book “Be your own support team” by Ben Rodford – he has a chapter all about flexibility

If you are really serious about making big gains I will make two further recommendations

  1. Go to a sports physiotherapist and get them to appraise you and start to work on releasing the tight muscles proactively.  If you go 2-3 times per week you will make big gains
  2. Join a Yoga class and do it 2 times per week.  Or buy the book “Yoga for Rowers” and do it yourself at home – but this is best done after you’ve done a couple of classes so you get taught the basics first because some of the poses are advanced level.

Good luck and please tell us how you get on.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Gary A

    FANTASTIC advice that addresses the needs of us Baby-Boomer rowers today! Thank you!!

  2. graham cawood

    Flexibility won’t help much if you try to pause at the catch.
    On the ergometer practice simply moving back and forth at 28 rating, with NO PAUSING. Stop of course – but don’t pause!!! Rebound at both ends – catch and release..
    Now do the same thing but holding the handle with the resistance set at 2. The arms are NOT fully straightened at the release, and remain so on the way to the catch. As your body stops allow your arms to be pulled straight by the chain. At full extension raise the hands as though they held blades, and let the arms rebound and bend. Your body has meanwhile stopped and is rebounding. Pick up the work.
    You might like to try an early layback to reduce the load on the back. At the instant the blades drop, swivel the torso just below the ribs so that your shoulders get behind the hips BEFORE the heavy work.The swivel will move the seat nearer to the feet, and give a longer leg drive.

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