The most common rowing injury of both the young developing rower and the elite rower is low back pain.
The research agrees with clinicians working with rowers – the less low back flexion (curve) you have the less low back pain you experience.
Most importantly, the more hip flexion (compression) you have the less curve you have in your low back.
In this image, Kim Brennan (gold medalist from the Rio Olympic Games) shows how maximal hip compression results in a very flat low back position. This position is protective of low back injury but also a very strong position for the transfer of leg load to the body. You will notice that her upper back in curved forward, to gain reach. This is exactly what it is designed for. As long at the lower part of the spine is not curved, the low back is less likely to be injured.
The key to getting into this position is stretching your glutes (bottom muscles). Here are two effective stretches that rowers can use to make a change in hip flexion (compression). If you can assume these positions without pain, hold the stretch for 2min, once per day for 2 weeks. This often makes a change in hip motion of up to 20degrees.
Improving motion in your hips is always best done under the care of a Physiotherapist with rowing specific knowledge so that all other factors can be assessed. Do not persist with these stretches if you experience any discomfort while performing them.