This photo, taken from BR, recognising the achievements of Anastasia Prosner, is a reminder that the rower’s (and sculler’s) back is not bent, bowed or banana shaped.
Here, these ladies are taking the load of a coxless pair in the middle of the drive phase, both demonstrating a strong back position.
For years I thought a bowed back through the drive and into the catch was natural for rowers/scullers (wrong), giving extra length (wrong) and more power (also wrong). In time I learned that a more comfortable, longer and more powerful stroke could be achieved by maintaining a strong position in the catch preparation phase and throughout the drive.
So how to achieve a strong back position?
It’s not as easy as ‘sitting tall’. Hip mobility. Engagement of hip at rock over and through drive. Core strength. The next time you sit on the seat in the boat, ask yourself ‘where is my weight on the seat?’ If you feel you are sitting in the middle or back (closest to bow) of the seat, if you feel you are sitting on your bottom, then you are probably not sitting correctly on the seat and probably not engaging the hips. Regularly check to ensure you are sitting on the front of the seat (nearest the stern), with your weight on the top of your legs rather than the ‘fleshy’ part of your bottom.
As well as going quicker (or the same speed for less effort 😀), the above will significantly reduce your risk of back and rib injury. Always ask if unsure. Happy safe rowing to all.