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Title: Elite rowing : technique and performance
Author: Murphy, Andrew James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 6534
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2009
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In elite rowing competition the difference between Gold and Silver is often less than one second, and there is a high incidence of injury amongst the sport's athletes. Previous studies into rowing have described kinetic and kinematic profiles, commented on the effects of factors such as fatigue and training status, and identified some aspects of rowing technique that may be associated with improvements in performance, or with injury mechanisms. However, such work has often been subject to significant errors and limitations, such as: restricting kinematic analysis to two-dimensions, small sample sizes, and lack of clinical and performance relevance. Furthermore there has been no one body of work to date that has published a comprehensive analysis of elite rowers' technique and described its relevance to performance. This represents a gap in the performance literature. The primary aim of this thesis was to describe and analyse the kinetic output and three-dimensional kinematics of elite rowers. It was hypothesised that a comprehensive and explicit description of athletes' technique could be compiled, and that aspects of this technique would be influenced by exercise intensity and longitudinal training. Furthermore, it was thought that discrete aspects of technique could be used to predict high levels of athletic performance, and individual's risk of spinal and knee injuries. A custom experimental methodology was developed and several pilot studies optimised and validated the method. More than eleven hundred rowing trials were completed by members of the Great Britain elite rowing squad over a period of twenty six months. This provided kinetic and kinematic data that was treated and analysed using custom written software, and subjected to statistical modelling. The thesis described the method and kinematic model that was utilised. A detailed description of elite athletes' rowing technique and kinematics was produced. Increasing exercise intensity influenced some of the measured parameters, and longitudinal feedback, and coaching interventions were effective in influencing the elite participants. Adopting a kyphotic posture in the lumbar region of the spine at any point in the rowing stroke was found to be detrimental to rowing performance, and may be linked to an increased risk of lumbar injury. Rapid extension of the lumbar spine was also thought to pose an injury risk, however it was found that athletes who extended the lumbar spine at the finish of the stroke exhibited better performance than those who did not. The kinematic characteristics of the lower limbs may positively influence rowers' performance, and provide protection against spinal injury.
Supervisor: Bull, Anthony ; McGregor, Alison Sponsor: Imperial College ; British International Rowing ; UK Sport
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available