Hip Anatomy & Disc Pathology in Rowers – By Lisa Lowe

Overthinking & Race Day Performance – By Blake Gourley

The Impact of Intermittent Palm Cooling on Rowing Ergometer Performance – By Joe DeLeo

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Article Summaries

Wedatilake, T., Palmer, A., Fernquest, S., Redgrave, A., Arnold, L., Kluzek, S., McGregor, A., Teh, J., Newton, J., & Glyn-Jones, S. (2021). Association between hip joint impingement and lumbar disc disease in elite rowers. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 7(4).

The researchers looked at 20 (12 male and 8 female) Great Britain national team rowers and compared lumbar spine and hip MRI images to understand if there is a correlation between hip abnormalities and lumbar disc pathologies. They found that the presence of a cam deformity of the hip (which can contribute to FAI (femoral acetabular impingement syndrome), was found in most rowers who also had signs of disc degeneration or lumbar spine pathologies. The cam deformity also correlates with decreased hip internal rotation, which contributes to difficulty finding deeper hip flexion positioning at the catch.   These are significant findings because of how prominent low back pain is in a rowing population. If a rower, their training staff and coaches were aware of any abnormalities in hip anatomy that might cause a rower to go into more low back flexion, they could adjust rigging or select sides in sweep rowing based on hip anatomy. 

Sparks, K., Kavussanu, M., Masters, R., & Ring, C. (2021). Conscious processing and rowing: a field study. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Researchers had 147 rowers fill out a questionnaire to determine if overthinking impacted their race day performance. Researchers examined two forms of overthinking; Movement Self-Consciousness and Conscious Motor Processing. The rowers who were overly self-conscious of their movement struggled to execute their race plan and took longer to cross the finish line. The rowers who reported extreme levels of conscious motor processing crabbed during their race. Since the pressure on race day can’t be removed, coaches and rowers may want to incorporate different strategies into their race day preparations to combat extreme levels of overthinking.

O’Brien, I., Kozerski, A., Gray, W., Chen, L., Vargas, L., McEnroe, C., Vanhoover, A., King, K., Pantalos, G. & Caruso, J. F. (2021). Use of Gloves to Examine Intermittent Palm Cooling’s Impact on Rowing Ergometry. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 35(4).

Researchers studied 34 participants (24 men, 10 women) to determine if intermittent palm cooling improved rowing ergometer performance. Researchers had three treatment conditions: no palm cooling (NoPC), palm cooling during exercise (PCex), and palm cooling during exercise and post-recovery (PCex&post). The researchers found that the PCex treatment condition rowed the greatest distance, followed by PCex&post. The researchers also found that NoPC had higher heart rate and blood lactate values. The results of this study suggest that rowers can benefit from intermittent palm cooling to improve rowing performance by reducing fatigue. Rowers and coaches will learn how to apply different cooling strategies to improve performance in hot weather.

About Science of Rowing

“Science of Rowing” is a monthly publication created by three dual rowing-and-strength coaches: Will Ruth, Blake Gourley, and Joe DeLeo. Our goal is to move research into practice for coaches and rowers of all ages, types, and levels. We are entirely member-funded and do not promote products or sell advertisements. Members receive one issue each month containing three reviews of recent and applicable research in rowing training, strength training for rowing, and other relevant performance areas like psychology, injury analysis, technology, and more.

Each issue includes video and graphic content to help move the knowledge into practice, as well as a podcast episode of the three of us discussing the takeaways and our experiences. Membership includes access to all prior issues, so join us for one month and get access to every issue. We also offer discounted annual and team memberships, as well as gift memberships for a special rower or coach in your life.