Massage for Rowers by Fran Kehoe

Rowing is a physically demanding sport, placing the body under a lot of strain and endurance. The entire body is involved in propelling the rowing boat through the water course. In rowing, the muscles are constantly subjected to a powerful and locomotive effort. Serious competitors need to maintain elasticity and balance between the lower and upper body to function at their best and avoid injury. Sports massage is designed to specifically help athletes and rowers to recover faster from workouts, prevent injuries and aid their performance.

Recovery massage for rowers

Rowing training programmes focus on fitness and strength. It involves the repetition of movement and a combination of rowing with weight training. This can often leave rowers experiencing muscle soreness, tightness and fatigue. Tight muscles drive blood out, depriving them of their natural ability to repair damaged tissues. Massage releases the tension, opening up the pores in the membrane of the soft tissues to allow in blood supply. Blood provides oxygen and nutrients to repair damage and speed up the recovery process.

Massage to aid rowing performance

Whilst muscle soreness doesn’t prevent rowers from training and competing, it can reduce training quality through restricted movement and pain. Restricted movement can reduce the rhythmic power generated by the levering of the rower’s body to drive the boat along the water’s surface. Even a small reduction of 10-20% reduction in range of motion can handicap their competitive edge. Having a specific massage program to open up the pelvic and shoulder joints to enable maximum leverage can make a significant difference in who crosses the finish line in first position.

Massage for rowing injuries

Rowers often present with wrist, shoulder and knee tendinosis, lower back pain and knee bursitis as common injuries. Rowing is a one sided activity and it can be habitual to train and use only the side from which you row. However, creating strength and over using one side of the body can leave the muscles on other side prone to weakness and trauma. Massage is particularly effective in helping to re-establish bio mechanical balance that is essential in such a high endurance sport. Repairing traumas, freeing up scar tissue and boosting the tone of weaker muscles all help knit the structures of the body to allow power to the areas that require it.

Myofascial release for rowers

Fascia or myo-fascia is the connective tissue that covers muscles and bones. Healthy fascia allows the joints of the body to move freely while supporting the structures. When fascia becomes unhealthy, dehydrated or twisted it can prohibit functionality and it can feel like wearing a wetsuit that is too small and kinked. Fascia that gets caught up with muscular imbalances and scar tissue will need a helping hand to return to optimum function. A skilful massage therapist will be able to guide the fascia back in place and re-educate the muscle memory to achieve a better rowing stroke.

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