Sophie Mackenzie runs through her chosen stretches for rowers who have tired legs and tight muscles. This is a sequence you can do after rowing – best tried as a crew.
Sophie rowed for New Zealand and is a double world champion in LW2x. She published her Stretching Poster for Rowers in April.
Downward dog – hamstrings
Downward dog is probably one of the greatest full body stretches. One of the main target muscle groups are the hamstrings. To get into this stretch begin in a table top position with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Then lift your knees off the ground and push your hips towards the sky creating a triangle pose. Think about pressing into your finger-tips and tilting your sit-bones towards the sky. It doesn’t matter how high your heels are off or on the ground as long as you’re feeling a nice releasing stretch down the backs of your legs. When you want to get a deeper stretch then add in the foot hook, placing one foot behind the other for about 30 seconds each or until they feel similar. Hold downward dog for 6 long deep breaths and repeat again after you finish the other stretches.
Trust me this stretch gets easier and better with time and regular practice.
2. Runners lunge – hip flexors + quads
From the downward dog position step one foot up in-line with your wrists making sure the ankle and knee are parallel. Turn your foot out slightly as well. If you’re really tight then please use blocks or books under your hands to give your body more height the first few times you practice this pose. Push your back knee onto the ground and ensure your back foot is straight, it often tends to cup in. Then press into your front leg’s big toe this should switch on your quads and hip flexors. If you’re not feeling much of a stretch yet then drop down onto your elbows, trying not to twist the hips keep them squared to your hands.
For a second option take same side hand as the foot you stepped up and place it on your knee. Take a gentle twist and let your foot roll out to the side, lean back into your other hand and think about lifting up through the chest and spine to create length in the body. Let the hips sink to deepen the stretch more but keep the core engaged the entire time to keep the stretch safe, we don’t won’t injuries!
3. Quad stretch – Quadriceps + Hip Flexors
Get into this stretch beginning in runner lunge stretch (above) lean on your outside hand and gently lift your foot up until you can grab your foot*. You will instantly feel this down the front of your thigh in your quad muscles. To enhance the stretch tuck your tail bone under and lift through your chest while looking towards your back foot taking an easy thoracic twist as well.
*if you can’t reach your foot wrap a strap, tie, or belt around your foot to gently guide it closer.
4. Adductor stretch – inner thighs
Start by crouching down to one side coming onto the ball of your foot. Flex and rotate your toes to the sky on the straight leg. Place both hands inside the legs and gently lean forwards. To make this stretch more intense press your elbow into your bent knee and push it out to the side this will enhance the stretch in your inner thigh, the adductor muscle group of the leg. This is a group of muscles we very rarely stretch so you will find this super beneficial and will help to get more length into your hamstrings as well.
Now go back and do the routine again starting with the opposite leg after Downward Dog stretch.