I learnt how tough dragon boating was on the body when I paddled for my works team UDC Finance way back in 1990. Later on I trained the Wellington City Conquerors and the Pru Crew (1996-2000), Royal Hong Kong X-Men and Women (2003-2004) and the 5x Stanley Mixed Gold Cup winners SeaGods (2005-2012 and 2015-2018). Naturally, the training focused on building strength, aerobic fitness and flexibility and I believe that the innovative training programmes that I brought to these crews gave the teams a significant advantage in reduced injury and improved performance.
Some of the issues I find with dragon boating are:
- for many teams taking part, dragon boating is a corporate event so the level of fitness and mobility of the participants may not be up to strength which often results in injury, but also misery as you need to have a certain level of fitness to enjoy the sport
- the paddling action is unbalanced and aggressive, which can cause injury on an unconditioned body
- and, for the competitive teams, training season is intense, and can result in injury.
Core strength and flexibility will not only help reduce injury, but also improve performance. See the two videos below that explain these concepts.
The stretches and movements outlined in the remaining videos are designed to help prevent injury and improve performance. They are based on my ROAM (Range of Active Movement) programme that uses five major yoga poses, breaking them down into the five fundamental movement patterns of squat, twist, bend, push, pull and lunge, which in turn correspond to the ‘5 animals’ concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can read more about this here: ROAM – Awakening the Joy of Movement
In the videos you’ll hear me refer to the yoga poses and also terms such as ‘Superficial Back Line’, ‘Spiral Line’ & ‘Lateral Line’. These refer to the fascia ‘tracks’ that run through our bodies. You can read more about the role of fascia in my article Dynamic Warm Up and Stretching.
1. Dynamic Stretching / Warming Up
A “dynamic warm up” is a series of movements designed to raise your body temperature, get your blood flowing and circulation moving, increase your range of motion and prep your muscles, and activate your nervous system prior to commencing physical activity or sports.
The movements you will see in the following two videos are based on the squat, twist, bend, push, pull and lunge, and several of these movements are demonstrated separately in the videos below. The idea is to perform a free flowing Tai Qi -like / dynamic warmup before exercise, but also, with regular practise, increase your ‘Range of Active Movement’ and so improve performance and reduce injury.
Dynamic warm up on the Bund Shanghai – short version
2. Dragon Boat Stretches
This sequence incorporates yoga’s Warrior 1, opening the Superficial front line, but also works the Spiral line for mobility while at the same time strengthening the legs, core and opening the chest.
Another spiral stretch that will benefit paddlers. The twist sequence is known as the Revolved Triangle, or Reverse Trikonasana in Yoga speak. As well as improving flexibility, it also challenges your balancing skills which of course, will improve if you are working on developing your core strength.
Having a flexible spine and pelvis is key to achieving that all-important forward reach in paddling. The forward bend works your Superficial Back fascia line.
This side bend will also benefit paddlers, releasing the hips and shoulders.
There’s a lot to absorb here so you can self coach with my book, ROAM – Movement as Medicine, or contact me for private training. I also train groups.