The Best Stretches and Warmups for Rowing

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Warming up and stretching properly before strenuous physical activity is important and can help improve your athletic performance. Rowing is no exception to this. There are a number of warm-up exercises you should perform, followed by stretching, to prepare your muscles for the intense physical demands that rowing places on them. Always warm up before doing any stretching, because stretching cold muscles could lead to injuries.

Warm Up

Research from the University of Birmingham suggests that rowers are better prepared for rowing performances if they combine a respiratory warmup exercise with a rowing-specific exercise in their warmup routine. This means you should incorporate an aerobic fitness exercise, such as jogging, high-knee hops and heel kicks to get your heart rate up. Do these for three to five minutes, then perform a rowing exercise to develop your range of motion. Rowing-specific exercise examples include full slides on a rowing machine for two to four minutes at a low intensity, and executing individual rowing segments, performing each for 30 seconds, before engaging in full slides at a higher intensity for one to two minutes.

Quadriceps Stretch

Lie on the ground on your right side and stretch out both legs. Plant your right elbow into the ground and prop up your head on your right hand. Curl your left leg back and grab the top of the foot with your left hand. Gently pull backward and extend your hips to lengthen the stretch. Lift your left knee and elevate it so that your thighs create a "V"-shape. Hold this position for seven to 10 seconds, then lower the knee. Repeat three times. Switch and lie on your left side to repeat this stretch sequence with your right leg.

Hamstrings Stretch

Sit on the ground with your legs fully extended and together in front of you. Point your toes upward. Pull your right foot in along your left leg and bring it toward your groin, keeping the bottom of the foot pressed against the inside of your left thigh. Your right knee should be pointing out and away from you at an angle. Slowly slide your hands down along your left leg and reach for your toes. If you can grab your foot, use it as leverage to deepen the stretch. If you can't, reach as far as you can and focus on the stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then release and repeat. Switch sides and repeat the stretch sequence on your right leg.

Iliotibial Band, Hip and Lower-back Stretch

Lie flat on your back on the ground and extend your legs. Keep your head on the ground and raise your right leg off the ground. Bend at the hip and knee to form a 90-degree angle between your torso and thigh, as well as your lower leg and thigh. Slowly rotate your right leg to the left side, across your lower body, by gently pulling on the outside of the knee with your left hand. Pull the knee down until it nearly touches the ground. Keep your left leg fully extended, and turn your head to the right, while also reaching to the right with your right arm. Focus on the stretch in the iliotibial band your hip and in the lumbar paraspinals, or your lower back. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds, then release and repeat. Switch legs and perform the stretch sequence toward the other side.