Facts about Olympic Rowing

Olympic Rowing

Rowing, which made its Olympic debut at the Paris 1900 Games, has more than a century of tradition in the waters of Rio de Janeiro. Each rower, irrespective of their event is to compete across a gruelling 2000m race over glass-like or choppy water – depending on what the weather produces. At this year’s Olympics, there are eight male races and six female races including sculls, double sculls, quadruple sculls, coxless pair, coxless four and the coxed eight.

Rio 2016 Rowing Fun Facts

  • Did you know the youngest rower at the last Olympics is an 18 years old female from Egypt?
  • What about the oldest rower being a 56-year-old female from Canada?
  • Did you know that Australia did not qualify for the women’s coxed eight for the last Olympics, but due to Russia being removed from the event due to drug cheating, they were put in the event! They had only 9 days to prepare for the event?
  • Australia hasn’t won a Gold Medal at the Olympics in rowing for 8 years
  • Did you know that improperly supported forces approaching 1000N can be loaded through your lumbar spine if imbalances or errors in your technique are present? That’s over 100kg through your spine, every stroke.

What Injuries Do Rowers Suffer?

Given rowing incorporates all the joints in the body to various degrees, an injury can be sustained in any joint. A list of the most common injuries can be seen below:

What Causes Rowing Injuries?

Given rowing is a repetitive sport, it is no surprise that the evidence shows that most injuries are overuse in nature and not so much traumatic (73.8% overuse vs 26.2% traumatic). As such, any small musculoskeletal limitation placed under the repetitive stress could develop into an injury.

The most common causes of rowing injuries are listed below:

  • Poor technique
  • Lack of fitness
  • Overtraining
  • Musculoskeletal limitations
  • Unsupervised resistance training
  • Excessive running as part of land training

All of the causes listed above can be prevented if the athlete is given the right direction/is monitored. At the Olympic level, the rower’s bodies are monitored meticulously and any niggles that could flag an injury onset are seen to immediately. Time out of the boat not only affects the individual but the crew as a whole. Therefore early identification and prevention are paramount to ensuring an injury-free season.

Undertaking a pre-season screening can identify and areas that are likely to lead to injury if not addressed. Elite athletes perform one at the commencement of every season and do regular follow-ups to ensure their body is tolerating the training load and responding to the exercises prescribed to improve their musculoskeletal deficits.

Rowing Injury Prevention Suggestions

  • Undertake a PhysioWorks Pre-Season Rowing Screening – have your biomechanics, muscle lengths and strengths assessed by an experienced physiotherapist to assess your weaknesses to prevent an injury.
  • Attain a good level of general health and fitness.
  • Warm-up thoroughly.
  • Stretching is an important part of your cool-down routine.

Immediate Injury Management Advice:

  • Stop immediately if an injury occurs to help prevent further damage.
  • Rowing through the pain will only aggravate the injury.
  • Seek prompt treatment of the injury.
  • Early management will mean less time away from rowing.
  • Treat your soft tissue injuries (ligament sprains, muscle strains, bumps and bruises) with rest, ice, compression, elevation until you seek the advice of your health professional.
  • Do not resume activity until you have completely recovered from injury and have been advised it is safe by your health professional.
  • Watch your technique and address any technique errors.
  • If you experience any discomfort in your chest (suspicion of a rib stress fracture), in line with Rowing Australia guidelines, 4 days of no water training is highly recommended.
    • Being able to perform a pain-free push-up, sit-up, deep-breath, cough and rib spring as well as experiencing no Night Pain or pain with activities of daily living ADL is recommended before returning to full rowing training.

Why is a Rowing Screening Important?

A PhysioWorks Rowing Screening helps rowers, coaches and their medical team to achieve their full potential. Essentially the aim of the screening is to identify musculoskeletal limitations to your rowing stroke, improve these and ultimately, prevent injury and make you a better rower.

The screening can be used for the individual or team performance to develop corrective, preventative and/or optimisation programs. We can perform screening at any point before, during or post rowing season but is ideally performed in the lead up to or during pre-season. This allows us to identify areas of concern and prevent them from manifesting into a season-threatening injury. Furthermore, by identifying areas of concern, we are also identifying areas that limit your rowing stroke potential. So identifying these and working to improve them not only prevent injury but can make you a better rower!

What Does a Rowing Screening Identify?

A thorough physical screening will:

  • Identify rowers at risk of injury
  • Identify new or old musculoskeletal physical factors that may predispose you to injury
  • Help reduce the risk of suffering an injury
  • Assist training modification to meet the physical needs of the rower
  • Identify technical flaws in your rowing stroke
  • Identify the key factors for a rib stress fracture onset

Most importantly, rowing screening can help rowing coaches, rowers and medical team members to effectively manage current injuries and prevent further injury.

How to Arrange a Rowing Screening

PhysioWorks can provide Rowing Screenings for individuals or an entire crew. Whether you are a stroke, bow tor cox, we can assist you.

Please contact us at PhysioWorks if you would like to discuss with one of our physiotherapists how we could assist you or your crew.

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