I get asked a lot of questions on Quora – here’s the most recent
What are the 3 most important stretches for rowing?
I think this is not the right question to ask. Because everyone has a different body and differing flexibility. I would reverse the question and ask whether you can achieve the body positions required for rowing or sculling. And if the answer is ‘no’ then select stretches suitable to advancing your personal ability in that area.
The most challenging body positions you have to achieve in rowing are:
- full compression at the catch (shins vertical, straight back, arms extended)
- glute activation mid-drive (linking back and legs)
- body rock forward on the recovery (shoulders forward of hips, arms extended)
If you cannot achieve these positions, some stretching could be beneficial.
I am not a physical therapist, but here’s a poster by Sophie MacKenzie detailing her top rowing stretches
You should select the stretches based on where your physical limitations are.
In my experience as a coach and as an athlete most people lack pelvic rotation, hamstring flexibility and back rotation for sweep rowing. If you are inflexible, a great way to start is to visit an osteopath, a physiotherapist or a sports massage therapist and ask them to loosen up your body with massage and then guide you on stretches which could help you improve your long term situation.
Do make sure the therapist understands rowing and the static positions you are trying to achieve (here’s a link to the rowing stroke cycle ebook).
Stretching resources on Rowperfect
- Glute and Back stretches advice
- Managing and avoiding lower back injury in rowing – Part 1 Posture
- Ben Rodford’s book Be Your Own Support Team – chapter on Flexibility
- Yoga for Rowers ebook and print book