Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Biomechanics of Rowing: Kinematic, Kinetic and Electromyographic Aspects

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Biomechanics of Rowing: Kinematic, Kinetic and Electromyographic Aspects

Article excerpt


Rowing is a cyclical sport where 14 Olympic medals are competed for in races of 2,000 meters. Approximately 80% of the total energy comes from the aerobic system, but high intensity intermittent efforts are performed at strategic moments of the race (e.g. to start the race and/or to pass opponents' boats) (Smith & Spinks, 1995). Moreover, a technical skill analysis of the movement biomechanics can help improve strength application (to boost the boat) and the energy reserves used by contracting unrelated muscles. Maximizing performance along the course is a critical performance factor because the average speed is dependent to the propulsion generated by the rowers, which must be greater than the drag force (drag factor) acting on the boat's mechanical system (Torres-Moreno, Tanaka, & Penney, 2000). In fact, world-rowing performance is divided into before and after biomechanical analyses, as rowers and coaches began to benefit from structural modifications to their boats upon their own initiative (Celentano, Cortili, Di Prampero, & Cerretelli, 1971). Early studies of high-speed cinematography showed that rowing efficiency is related to the proximity between peak force and the perpendicular position of the paddle with the water, which presents the importance of kinematic analysis and forces acting during movement (Mahler, Parker, & Andresen, 1985).

Relative to cine-anthropometric differences and angular modifications, studies have shown the relationships between anthropometric data, muscle power, angular and linear speed with the electromyographic (EMG) activity of rowing. In fact, EMG has been widely applied to compare efficacy of modifications in recruitment of motor units due to differences in equipment, which may alter the angular stroke speed (Gauthier, 1985). Knowledge about inter and intramuscular coordination in rowers reports the profile of muscle activities during specific actions of the sport, and from this information the form and level of muscular activation can improve performance, as well as reduce the risk of injuries (Vinther et al., 2006). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to analyse the three main biomechanical factors related to rowing - the kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic aspects - aiming to improve performance. Therefore, a summarization of the literature pertinent to these biomechanical aspects in rowing is justified. It is assumed that showing results of research combined with methodological data can provide an important reference for establishing strategies for the development of this sport. Therefore, the objective of this systematic review was to show and discuss experimental designs and results from research on kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic factors in rowers. The results discussed and summarized hear can help coaches in planning a specific training.

Materials & Methods

Search strategy

The data revised were found in scientific journals (until June 2015) in the following databases: PubMed, Scopus, SportDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES and Medline, where the following indexed terms were used: "biomechanics", "dynamometer", "Pressure kinematics, kinematics, kinetics and/or electromyography", in combination with the terms "rowing" and/or "rower" to be found anywhere in the articles.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Only studies published in English with observational descriptions or whose experimental tests showed intervention effect on kinematic, kinetic and/or electromyographic measures were included. The articles were examined by internal validity under the following criteria: (1) research with a control group; (2) randomized control studies; (3) studies using instruments with high reliability, and; (4) descriptive investigations with minimal experimental sample loss. Each study was analysed in order to evaluate the effects of the interventions in the biomechanical patterns, as well as the characteristics of each study in the respective methods, subjects and effects. …

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