Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back basics

No, no, no I didn't miss a word from the title of this post... I do mean back basics, and not back to basics.... ah, you would like me to explain? No? Well I logged in to share so I am gonna :oP hehehehe

Since I fell off my bike and did my shoulder in I have not had the strongest shoulder girdle, despite going to a great physio class at the local hospital for a good few weeks at the time. I have in fact never had the strongest shoulders or back, as a kid (and possibly also currently at times) I tended to hunch to reduce my height (as the tallest kid in the class I was at times a bit self conscious).

From the early phases of learning to row it was noted that my core and shoulders weren't strong enough to cope with the leg powered drive phase of the stroke. This lack of strength led to me 'tugging' with my arms, it sounds counter intuitive but it really isn't. If your shoulders, core and back aren't strong enough to translate the leg drive energy to the oar the tendency is to tense and bend the arms (to grip). The consequence being the power of the leg drive is reduced and masked by an almighty arm and shoulder shrug to cope with the oar load. Ideally, during the initial leg drive (which is followed by shorter body and arm phases) the rower should leave the arms straight, fingers loosely hooking over the handle, and the legs exploding; the core, shoulders and back holding the posture firm facilitating the transfer of the huge leg effort through the body into the oar and thus into propulsion through the water. If the leg drive isn't harnessed and you row with bend arms, 'pulling' and 'tugging', then fatigue rapidly hits you and you struggle to row very far at any speed at all.

So during my recent morning sessions on the cross trainer I have taken a half time break to work a little on my back and shoulders. Through using light pull ups and dips, and a couple of the other simple weight machines. It leads you to feel really very tired, there is something different about recovering from upper body that leaves you feel heavier and slower than if you had done isolated leg work. Leg work recovery hurts if you climb stairs, core work recovery hurts when you sit at the dinner table (unless you slump which is painful in a different way). I am hoping that as I carry on this phase it'll get easier and easier like I've found before with running (predominantly leg) training.

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