Youth often begin rowing right when they start to grow. Girls often have their major growth spurt from 12-14 years and boys from 14-16 years. Growing results in a loss of relative flexibility. Imagine how much tighter the hamstring muscle, running down the back of the thigh, becomes as a young boy grows 15cm in height over a 12 month period! Growth also results in a reduction in relative strength and young athletes often struggle to gain movement movement control of a growing body that is changing rapidly. Often boys gain regain relative strength a little quicker than girls and this is likely due to the hormonal changes that occur with growth and puberty.
Yoga has a great mix of benefits that can benefits the growing rower;
- long hold stretches that are especially focused around the hips
- holding of poses that require trunk control and hip & shoulder girdle strength
- meditation and focus on breath that can assist with achieving a state of calm during a difficult period of body changes
Dog pose is a perfect example of an exercise of specific benefit to rowers. The position that the rower gets into is not too different from the rock-over position required just after the finish of the drive. Without hamstring length the rower will collapse into a poor pelvic posture at the end of the drive or may not be able to tilt the pelvis to upright during rock-over resulting in a position of a less upright pelvis coming into the catch.
Reduced ability to control the pelvis has been linked to the development of low back pain in rowers and should be a major focus for injury prevention in the young developing rower.