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The Biomechanics Of Rowing And Benefits You Can Get

Rowing is fast becoming popular in fitness circles worldwide and some. Know more about it and its benefits...

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Rowing is fast becoming popular in fitness circles worldwide and some, such as Professor Fritz Hagerman from Ohio University are going as far as to call it the most magnificent sport there is. Hagerman completed a study comparing steeplechase athletes and rowers. What he found during his studies was that topi level rowers in the two kilometer event burned double the amount of calories compared to a three kilometer steeplechase athlete. However there are not just physical benefits to be gained from rowing, but a range of mental and emotional ones as well that come from exercising outdoors. This makes rowing a good sport for both recreational and high intensity athletes alike.

propel-rowing-boatWhile some sports concentrate on just one muscle group, rowing is unique as it give a full body workout. The leg, back and arm muscles are all engaged and active when rowing so they are all able to be worked at the same time.

In rowing there are four main movements that make up one stroke and it is here that the muscles are used. These four movements are commonly knows as:

* the catch

* the drive

* the finish

* the recovery

They are combined into a single stroke which is then performed continuously to propel the boat across the water, with each movement flowing onto the next one to keep the boat stable.

The Catch

This is the first movement of every stroke. The top of the oar is placed into the water and in doing so the rower engages their legs, hips and shoulders. Most specifically, the quadriceps, gastrocenius, soleus, gluteus maximus, and biceps brachii muscles are all used.

The Drive

The drive begins when the rower begins to push with their leg muscles or quadriceps. At this point their back and arms are also working to complete the movement, specifically the trapezlus, psterio deltoid, pectorals major and biceps brachii muscles.

The Pull and Recovery

As soon as the legs straighten, the oar is pulled back with the arms and the shoulders are swung backwards to bring the rower into the finish position. The remainder of the body’s main muscles are used to complete this movement, including gluteus maximus, quadriceps, brachioradialis, and abdominal.

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

There are many added benefits that can be gained just by exercising in an outdoor setting such as rowing outdoors. While most people find that the outdoor environment is more stimulating and interesting than an indoor gym, exercising outside has actually been shown to help people reach their fitness goals faster. When people exercise outside, they are able to reap added benefits such as increased vitamin D intake and the chance to breath in fresh air. This can lead to a reduction in stress levels and fatigue levels also decreasing. This makes it far more likely for people to continue and actually enjoy exercising which allows them to keep at it.

Further benefits of rowing on the water were discovered during a talk recently with chiropractor who works alongside Olympic rowers and other high performance sports people. He explained that when rowing on the water, surrounding obstacles and the ever changing surface of the water meant that a constant state of consciousness was required in order to row effectively, otherwise knows as pro-perceptive activity. This level of awareness and the mental stimulation that comes with it is very difficult to replace on an indoor stationary rowing machine. By staying mentally aware, exercises are forced to focus on rowing and not on mounting paperwork or other stressful situations which might have previously been troubling them, allowing them time out to mentally refresh so that they are able to tackle them with increased energy when they return.

Researchers commonly point out that stress can have severe negative effects on the body. High stress levels have led to a wide range of both mental and physical health issues such as depression, insomnia, heart disease and skin disorders. Through rowing, people are able to get away from stressful situations and just concentrate on the repetitive motion of the oar while inhaling fresh clean air.

Environment Friendly

Using rowing as a form of transport largely eliminates the high levels of pollution and noise that is created through outboard power boating. Andre Mele examines the effects of using an outboard motor is his book “Polluting for Pleasure”. Mele concluded that in the US, pleasure boating produces just as much hydrocarbon pollution as road vehicles.

Impact Sports

Due to the low impact and non contact nature of rowing, the chances of sustaining a serious injury are largely reduced compared to other sports such as rugby or running. High impact sports can lead to severe and even permanent injuries and over 1 million surgeries are performed each year to replace damaged joints which are jarred and injured through exercising. Experts on says that:

* 98% of joint procedures are for hip and knee replacements

* The average age to get a hip surgery is 66 years old

* The average age for a knee operation is 68 years old

Rowing does not have the same damaging effect on joints because it is a low impact sport and the joints are not repeatedly jarred. This means it is also good for those who are returning to physical activity following an injury or those who are older and seeking a new way to keep fit while still remaining in competitive sport.

Improved Overall Well-being

Not only does rowing burn a massive 600 calories per hour and give a full body workout, it also leads to decreased stress levels and increased mental well-being. Rowing is a low impact outdoor sport which can be done by those seeking a good workout as well as those wishing to push themselves hard and test their limits.

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