We need to be able to roll up over the big toe as we ride into the catch.
We’ve already looked at ankle mobility but we haven’t taken into account the role of the foot & big toe. Limitations at the foot and big toe may affect performance, technique, and injury potential. We need to be able to roll up over the big toe as we ride into the catch. A typical standard is 1-3 inches of heel lift. Less than that may make the force more vertical, while more than that, may negatively affect performance and injury potential.
US Rowing regulates that the heel can lift no more than 3 inches (7.5cm) above the footplate. FISA has a similar regulation of 7cm (2.7 inches). Due to these facts, we’re going to use a tennis ball to establish a standard. A typical tennis ball ranges from 2.5-2.7 inches. So it’s not exact, but it’s pretty close.
Here’s a quick way to determine if you have adequate foot & big toe mobility specific to rowing.
With the tennis ball under your heel, come up into the catch with a vertical shin. If you have adequate ankle mobility, you should be able to reach this position without compensation, unless your foot & big toe are limited. Can you do that while staying aligned? Without the foot turning out, foot & knee collapsing, & or the hip flaring out?
Perfect, you pass.
If you don’t? You’ve got some homework.
Blake Gourley holds a Masters of Science in Sports Performance Training and has over 10 years of experience working with rowers. Read more