In case you missed it, Joe Deleo, Blake Gourley, and I talked a lot about warming up and preventing rowing injuries yesterday on the first-ever Rowperfect Strength Coach Roundtable Podcast. Here’s the link to the recap with timestamps and links!
This series of exercises is designed to stretch and activate target muscles of common problem areas for rowers to be used before rowing, erging, and strength training. Warming up is an important part of maximizing performance in the short-term and health and longevity in the long-term. In the short-term, warming up helps prepare your body to execute the coming workout as effectively as possible. This is especially important for rowers who practice or train first thing in the morning. For rowers, this means activating the glutes, stretching the hip flexors, and getting the muscles of the upper torso firing. This sequence should take no more than 10 minutes.
3-5 minutes of low stress aerobic activity
Before putting strain on the muscles, increase your core body temperature with 3-5 minutes of jump rope, jogging, light erging, or stationary cycling. You should have a light sweat and slightly elevated heart rate by the end of the 3-5 minutes.
3-Way Ankle Stretch, 10 reps each position
3-way ankle stretch for better compression at the catch and prevention against a common source of knee pain.
3-Way Hip Opener, 10 reps each position
3-way hip opener to stretch the muscles of the groin, hip flexors, and glutes. Hip flexor tightness is very common in rowing and is a main contributor to low back pain and poor body angle on the recovery. Loosening your hip flexors will also allow your glutes to contract more forcefully, resulting in a better braced torso and more power from the legs to the arms.
Glute Activation Tripleset: Pendulum hip extension, fire hydrant, hip thrust, 10 reps each position
Three glute activation exercises to get the glutes firing and stretch the hip flexors through an active range of motion.
Full Tension Plank
Do a 30s full-tension plank to re-ingrain the bracing pattern and activate the abdominal muscles.
Band Pullaparts, Face Pulls, or YWT Raises, 2 sets of 20 reps
Perform one of these exercises with a band, dumbbells, or small weight plates to prepare the postural muscles of the rhomboids, posterior deltoids, and trapezius for a strong stroke and good connection with the blade. These muscles balance the internal rotators of the shoulder and can help prevent the rowing hunchback posture, alleviating pressure on the spinal discs.
Pushup Plus, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
The pushup plus is a great exercise for the pectoralis muscles and triceps as well as the serratus anterior. The serratus anterior is an important muscle in rowing and can help prevent the common rowing injury of the rib stress fracture [LINK TKTK]. The pushup plus can also be scaled down and done from the knees if necessary.
Deep Squat Progression
Finally, put it all together with the deep squat progression. This exercise stretches the hamstrings and back, then the groin, then the mid back, and ends with a squat. This is a great exercise to test any of the above muscles as well. If the deep squat reveals tightness or pain in the hip flexors, go back to #3 and work through the hip opener again. If you feel shoulder impingement going overhead, go back to #6 and continue warming up the upper back and shoulders, or add some thoracic spine foam rolling.