Catch, drive, finish and recover, better known as rowing. Functional fitness athletes know all too well the pain that accompanies rowing. Row sprints can fatigue muscles quickly and tax the cardiovascular system. Rowing for distance, like 13.1 miles, can wreck your low back and legs during, and after the workout is complete. This continuous fluid movement, which doesn’t allow for much rest, often leads to repetitive stress injuries and tightness. Low back pain is one of the most common injuries seen in collegiate rowers. If these athletes who work so hard to become a specialist in this particular movement and constantly train to improve their performance have issues, it stands to reason that functional fitness athletes will as well. And with the athletes I work with, this is very much the case. Along with low back pain, IT Band inflammation due to the repetitive motion of the catch (when the knees bend before the beginning of the next pull) is relatively common. Inflammation can be caused by tightness, which doesn’t always originate at the IT Band but in the attached muscles like glutes or quads. Stretching and mobilizing immediately after and in the days following this movement, is crucial for fast recovery.
When looking at the muscle groups targeted during the 4 phases of the rowing movement, we begin to see this is a full body movement with certain muscle groups doing most of the work. The posterior chain, quads, rhomboids, abdominals and calves work hard in a particular order and rhythm to produce this powerful movement. The yoga postures listed below stretch, release and relax the major movers of this repetitive movement.
Tips and Tricks:
* As this is WOD Recover Yoga, it is always best to do these postures after working out. When the muscles are warm, stretching is easier.
* Stay in the pose, breathing in and out through the nose for up to 2 minutes depending on how you feel. Allow the body some time to relax in the posture so that as the muscles relax, you deepen the stretch.
1. Thread the Needle
* Stretches upper back and rhomboids
Starting in a tabletop position with the shoulders stacked over wrists and the hips over the knees. Extend your right arm out to the right and on your exhale, thread your right are through over to the left. Bring the right shoulder on the ground. Walk the left hand over to the left and on your exhale, press through the left palm and open the chest towards the ceiling. Lengthen the left side of the torso while you twist the spine.
2. Twisted Monkey
* Stretches hip flexors and abdominals
Step the right foot forward and to the right of your hip. Point the front toes out, keep the front knee hugging into the right shoulder and the back toes untucked. Bend the back knee and grab the foot with the right hand. Allow the foot to fall into the hand to relax the hamstrings and prevent cramping. Draw the heel in towards the butt to deepen stretch in the left psoas.
3. Revolved Seated Staff
* Stretches low back, outer hips and IT Band
Start by sitting with the legs straight out in front. Grab for the outside of the right foot with the left hand thumb down. Grounding the sit bones, extend the spine and sit up tall. Begin to open the chest towards the right side placing the right hand behind you. From here, extend the right leg to your degree. You should feel an intense stretch along the outer hip and down to the outer right knee. Use each exhale to gradually deepen the twist and each inhale to sit up taller.
4. Seated Forward Fold
* Stretches low back, hamstrings and calves
Start seated with the legs straight out in front. Sit up tall, flex the feet and engage the quads. Roll the tops of the thighs towards one another. Reach the arms up and on your exhale, leading with the chest, fold forward. Grab the toes. If necessary, use a strap or band around the arches of the feet. Keep the back of the neck long. Continue to extend the chest out as you breath through this stretch for up to 2 minutes.
5. Reclined Spinal Twist
* Stretches low back and shoulders
Start by lying on your back with your left thigh over the right thigh. Shift the hips to the left and on your exhale send the knees to the right. Extend the left arm out to the left. To continue the stretch up the back of the neck, gaze over your left fingers. As you breath, you will notice your left knees will begin to drop towards the ground. Breath in and out through the nose for up to two minutes then switch sides. * If this is too much on the back, bring the knees together and then twist.
6. Pigeon/Eye of the Needle
* Stretches glutes and low back
Starting in Down Dog, bring the right shin forward and place it on the ground. Keep the right foot flexed. The right knee should be to the right of the hip. Extend the left leg back. Roll towards the front of the left hip so the hips are square towards the ground. Depending on tightness, shift the right heel forward, but only if this doesn’t hurt the right knee. Once you feel an intense stretch in the glutes, walk the hands forward, resting the forehead on the ground or on your hands. If at anytime there is pain in the right knee use Eye of the Needle as a great alternative.
**Eye of the Needle
* Stretches upper, middle and low back
Start by lying on your back. On an inhale, bring the feet up and over, towards the ground behind the head. If the toes don’t easily touch, draw the shoulder blades and elbows together, then grab the low back. Most of the weight should be in the upper arm bones. Breathe here for about a month and slowly; lower down onto your back.