Hamstring flexibility for rowers seems to always rank high in concerns for both coaches and rowers. “My hamstrings are tight” is offered as an explanation for everything from low back pain, poor stroke technique, restricted reach on the recovery, and more. However, perhaps we’ve been chasing the wrong culprit with our seemingly endless hamstring stretches. When writing my low back pain and rib stress injury research review article, I kept coming across references to “Koutedakis, 1997,” in regard to the muscular imbalance of quadriceps and hamstrings in rowers and resulting low back pain.
“Knee Flexion to Extension Peak Torque Ratios and Low-Back Injuries in Highly Active Individuals” was an intriguing study as described in other research, despite the bland name, as the authors reportedly did a 6-8-month study of female rowers with a history of low back pain, assigned a hamstring strengthening intervention, and found a decrease in days missed from practice for low back pain. I got the article through interlibrary loan, dug in, and it turned out to be even more interesting than I hoped.