By: Kirsten Preskenis
Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Maybe it’s to lose a few pounds if you’ve over-indulged on sweets this holiday season (if you’re looking for inspiration, check out the article, ‘4 Tips to Build Winter Momentum’). If you’re a rower, you may be looking for ways to improve or spice up your training.
One of my resolutions is to improve my flexibility. I often skimp on stretching, especially when I’m in a rush, and it shows! But good flexibility is important for rowers. For example, think about the last time you erged – did your ankles stay down as you approached the catch, or did they rise up in order for you to reach full compression? I find that when I’m less flexible, erging isn’t as comfortable. Plus, it can impact my power application at the front end of the drive.
How can we improve our flexibility? I recommend budgeting time at the end of your training sessions for static stretching. Many rowers on our team also turn to yoga to supplement their stretching regimen. I’ve listed three yoga-inspired poses that I do on my own regularly after training. Before you start your own stretching regimen, make sure it is within your range of ability to prevent injury. Always consult with your doctor and certified fitness professionals before starting any new regimen.
Modified Downward-Facing Dog with Calf Stretch
- Start on your hands and knees, with your arms and wrists positioned under your shoulders, and legs hip-width apart, toes curled underneath.
- Slowly push up and back through the hips, keeping the spine as straight as possible, pressing through the hands.
- Gently press back into your right heel while bending your left leg.You should feel a stretch in the calf of your straightened leg.
- Hold for 15 seconds, then alternate to the other leg.
- Lie on your stomach. Place your hands on the ground on either side of your chest. The tops of your feet should rest on the floor.
- While keeping your elbows near your sides, raise your torso up, drawing your shoulders back and chest forward, while relaxing your shoulders and neck. Pull gently forward on the ground to lengthen your lower back.
- You should feel a gentle stretch through your spine, although go with the natural flexion of your back – don’t force the stretch!
- Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor, tucked close to your hips.
- Push your hips upward and buttocks off the ground, tightening your core, while keeping your hips in line with your shoulders and knees. Keep your shoulders and arms on the floor, with your palms facing downward.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds. You should feel a good stretch in your spine, thighs, and hips.
I’ve found that these stretches, when done properly, help with my overall flexibility. Again, consult with your doctor and certified fitness professionals before starting any new training regimen. Good luck!