Are you loving your rowing machine? Whether you’re an old hand or a newbie, one thing is true for everyone; no one wants to deal with an injury!
While rowing is low-impact, you can still injure yourself in various ways, especially from overuse.
Over many years of rowing, I’ve discovered the best way to prevent injuries, and that is by doing rowing stretches! I don’t think we give stretching enough credit, but I swear that simply stretching before and after a workout makes all the difference!
If you haven’t been stretching, you’re going to notice a big difference in the way you feel. Stretching before and after your workout makes the difference between a so-so workout and a stellar workout that leaves you feeling great!
I’ve made this article with a list of some basic warm-up and cool-down stretches that you will benefit from. They only take a few minutes, and they will not only make you feel less sore, but they will also help prevent many of the common rowing injuries that ail a great many people.
Let’s get this stretching show on the road, shall we?
How to Warm Up Before Rowing
I know many newbies don’t appreciate how important it is to warm up and stretch before a rowing workout. If you want to take the fast track to injury, then not warming up is a quick way to get there.
To warm up before you really get into your rowing workout, I recommend jogging in place or doing jumping jacks. It only takes one minute of either exercise to get your circulation going.
After you have warmed up, you can start stretching.
Best Stretches Before Rowing for the Legs & Arms
You want to stretch the back of the thigh to prevent injuries. Believe it or not, when the hamstrings are tight, you will feel it in your lower back.
You can stretch the hamstrings by placing your left leg on a stair riser or table so that your left knee is on the same level as your chest. Keep your right foot flat on the floor and try to lean forward, as if you were going to touch your chest to your thigh. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then repeat with your right leg.
The quads are the big leg muscle on the front of the thigh. This stretch is very easy but just as important as stretching your hamstring.
From a standing position, bend your right leg behind you. Grab your right foot with your right hand and gently pull upward. You should feel this stretch near the lower portion of the thigh, close to the bent knee.
Hold for a count of 10-20, then repeat with the left leg.
This stretch for the back of your arms feels so good, you might do it just because!
Take your right arm and put it above your head. Now bend the elbow, as if you were trying to scratch your back. Use your left hand to gently pull the elbow towards your back. Be very gentle here!
Hold for a count of 10-20, then repeat with the other arm.
Post Rowing Stretches: The Comprehensive Cool-Down
Cooling down after a workout is all about allowing the body to return to its pre-workout state. It’s not only about returning your breathing to normal, but also getting your circulation back to remove damaged or old muscle tissue and bring fresh nutrients and oxygen to the muscles to build new muscle.
Best Cooling-Down Stretches For Rowers
Lower Back/Glute Stretch
For many people, it’s the glutes, lower back, and hips that are the tightest and need the most stretching.
Get a yoga mat and sit on the floor. Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet together. Put your hands on your feet and let your torso gently fall forward. If you’re really limber, you can put your arms under your calves and pull your torso down slightly.
Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds – don’t forget to breathe! Repeat as often as you want.
Post Workout Hamstring Stretch
I love to do these rowing stretches because they really make me feel so good!
From a sitting position, bend your left knee and place the sole of your foot on your right thigh.
Put your right leg out straight in front of you. Bend forward at the waist and try to touch your forehead to your left knee. Don’t push so hard that it hurts, just feel that gentle stretch on the back of the thigh.
Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs and stretch the opposite side.
Let me tell you, after bending forward for so long, it feels so good to bend the opposite way! This also stretches our core muscles and is one of the best stretches overall.
This is a yoga pose known as the Cobra. Lie on your belly and put your arms out in front of you.
Slowly walk your hands back and, if possible, put your hands next to your chest.
You can simply lift your chest off the ground or if you are the flexible type, you can lift your upper body off the floor completely.
Hold this stretch for a count of 20-30, then release. Repeat as often as you like.
I’ve been doing this simple stretch for many years to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
You can sit down or take a standing position for this stretch, your choice.
Put one arm in front of you. Keeping your fingers together, point your fingers down towards the ground. You can use your other hand to gently pull your hand down towards the floor.
Hold for a count of 20-30.
Still keeping your fingers together, point your fingers towards the sky. Use your other hand to pull back on your hand. Be careful not to pull too hard.
Hold for a count of 20-30, then repeat with the other side.
After you have done both hands, shake out your arms and hands. This will help release some of the tension.
The Bottom Line on Rowing Stretches
If you like, this video can help you see exactly how some of these stretches are done. It’s only 10 minutes long, and it’s well worth the look.
If you are already experiencing pain and stretching doesn’t offer any relief, it might be time to visit a physical therapist.
Stay healthy, remember to stretch, and happy rowing!