Cover Image for Pre- and Post-Rowing Stretches
Chris Chang
Chris Chang

The distribution of muscular tension in your body is a reflection of your lifestyle and training.  If tension is distributed unevenly throughout the body, you may end up with aches, pains, limited range of motion, and impaired movement.  Performing a movement assessment with a qualified professional can be a great way to identify your personal needs, however the scope of this post will be focused on general mobilizations to assist with rowing.  If your range of motion is limited, it will restrict you from getting in the proper positions for ideal rowing form.  Try these stretches pre/post workout or even on recovery days to keep your body moving well.


Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Most of us in the modern age spend a lot of time seated in the car, at work, at dinner, on the couch watching tv, and even on the rower!  This causes our hip flexors to become locked in a shortened position and throws the distribution of tension out of whack for your hips and lower back.  The Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch can be a great mobility drill to help combat our seated lifestyle.  


Start off on one knee on a soft surface.  Get nice and tall from the knee through the top of the head.  Pretend that your waist band is a bucket of water filled up to the brim and pour water out the back side.  Squeeze your back butt cheek and you should feel a stretch along the front of your hip.  If you want to take the stretch further, shift your hips forward without allowing your hips to tilt forwards (continue pouring water out the backside).  


Perform 1-3 sets of 30 seconds per side if pre-workout or 1 set of 2 minutes per side if post-workout or on a recovery day.  Limit stretching to once per day and no more than 2 minutes per muscle group.  


Rear Foot Elevated Quad Stretch

If you have worked on the hip flexor stretch for a while or just have very tight quads, then try the Rear Foot Elevated Quad Stretch as the next level up, focusing more on the quads.  Note: Perform either this or the Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch, but not both as they will stretch similar muscle groups.  


This can be performed using a chair, bench or wall.  Start with your hands and knees on the floor with a soft surface below your knees.  Reach one foot up onto the wall behind you, then step forward with the opposite foot to a half kneeling position.  Get tall from knee to head and focus on extending your hips as well as tucking your hips under or pouring water out of the backside.  To make the stretch more intense, scoot your back knee backwards closer to the wall to raise your rear foot height.  To make the stretch less intense, scoot your back knee forwards further from the wall to lower your rear foot height. 


Perform 1-3 sets of 30 seconds per side if pre-workout or 1 set of 2 minutes per side if post-workout or on a recovery day.  Limit stretching to once per day and no more than 2 minutes per muscle group.



Side Lying Windmill

The shoulder complex sits atop the rib cage, so we need to mobilize both together.  This is essential to keeping your shoulders primed and ready for movement.  


Lay on your side, with a prop under your head for comfort. Get tall from head to toe. Reach both arms straight out in front and bring your top knee up to rest on the floor at belly button height. With your eyes following your top hand, move through a windmill pattern, reaching overhead and around while keeping it as close to the floor as possible.  Keep your top knee in contact with the ground the whole time.  


Perform 1-3 sets of 10 reps on each side pre-workout, post-workout or on a recovery day. 



High Plank to Downward Dog

Rowing requires you to both fold forwards from the hips and to stabilize your shoulders while reaching your shoulder blades forwards in the catch.  This High Plank to Downward Dog drill kills two birds with one stone.  


Start off on your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders.  Step both feet back to a push-up position with feet shoulder width apart.  From here squeeze your shoulder blades together (to help reset), then press as far from the floor as possible, reaching your shoulder blades forwards (and apart from one another) to get in your correct start position for your High Plank.  From High Plank push the floor away and overhead as you reach your hips back and up to the ceiling while driving your heels towards the floor.  Try to keep your legs and back straight as you focus on hinging through the hips.  


Perform 1-3 sets of 5-10 breaths pre-workout or on a recovery day. 



World’s Greatest Stretch

This one is called the World’s Greatest Stretch because it provides a ton of bang for your buck, hitting both upper and lower body.  If you are short on time, this is a good go-to in your warm-up.  


Modified version

Start off on hands and knees on a soft surface below the knees.  Step one foot forward next to your hand.  Drive your same side elbow up towards the ceiling while rotating through the spine, then reach that elbow down and across towards the down hand.  


Full version

To take this stretch to the next level, we will fully straighten the back leg then perform the elbow driver from this fully extended position. Focus on staying long from heel to head and rotating through the spine.  


Perform 1-3 sets of 10 reps on each side in pre-workout or on a recovery day. 


Take Away
These are a few mobility drills that you can implement in your training to help your body feel good and move better through the rowing techniques.  It is recommended to do at least one mobility drill for both upper and lower body.  Figure out which drills work best for you or address the most significant restriction you have and focus on performing those consistently until you see improvement.  During any mobility drill you should be able to perform controlled breaths, inhaling through the nose and a long exhale through the mouth. If at any point you have trouble controlling your breathing or find yourself holding your breath, then you are probably pushing your body too far and should dial it back a bit. 



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