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Digital Subscriptions > Row360 > Issue 027 – May | Jun 2019 > FLEXIBILITY


How much is too much?

Flexibility work is seen as an important aspect of rowing, whether as part of a training programme or as an injury prevention strategy. Whether you are an injured or healthy rower, you are sure to have experienced a coach, fellow rower or manual therapist saying something like, “You should stretch your hamstrings,” or “Your lack of flexibility affects your rowing”. To which, in my opinion, the response should be, “Why?” and “How much?”. In the same vein, measuring rowers’ flexibility with the sit-andreach test (a measure of back and hamstring flexibility) or knee-to-wall test (a measure of calf flexibility) begs two questions: firstly how is being flexible an advantage; and secondly is it possible to have too much flexibility?

Deined most simply as “the ability to bend with ease and without breaking”, flexibility is an important fitness component for rowers. This is essentially because greater stroke length, when used correctly, can correlate to greater rowing efficiency. In other words, if a rower rows longer, they can make the boat travel further per stroke and not necessarily have to rely solely on increasing their rating to increase overall boat speed. Optimal stroke length cannot be obtained without the range of motion and muscle extensibility that is part of being flexible.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.