If it's an occupational hazard, are there ways to prevent it (other than
not coxing or only coxing the best boats)?
Obviously, good set and little/no check would affect the back, but if one
can't always have that, then what?
Daffy 2521 wrote:
> By back problems, do you mean the pain of being pounded against the seat
> when there is check in the boat? If so, place some padding back there - a
> good stiff foam-type pad, not just extra clothes. But obviously, the key
> is to stop the check: fix the problem, not the symptom. (If you or your
> coach are having trouble fixing the check, post another message on here and
> I'm sure you'll get lots of ideas for drills and other "cures")
> If you mean the problem of generalized aches that aren't related to bad
> rowing technique, then a pad would help. Doing sit-ups would also help:
> if you strengthen your abdominal muscles, it always helps with muscle
> fatigue in the lower back.
Not a direct comment, but one of the major reasons why most coxes have
some kind of back problem is because the seats and cockpits in boats are
not designed for them. Almost no thought is given to the fact that coxes
stay in one position for around 2 hours at a time. The only 8+ shell out
of nine different types I have steered (four regularly, the rest on
overseas trips) which is right for coxes is the newer form of Empacher,
which has a deep coxing seat, and a wide band of wood around the
sub-shoulder region. This acts as a back-rest and gives great support,
although it also helps to stick a pad of foam below the wood if your lower
back is already stiff. Since the panel itself doesn't continue below the
mid-back, it allows the cox to lean slightly forward, which is better for
the back and for the crew's balance, whatever shape of person sits there.
Very shallow seats in eights, without any support around the shoulders,
lead to the body bracing against itself, and severe problems.
In front-loader 4+ boats few are right, since they have to be designed for
differing sizes of cox, but they can be modified with some foot-rest
blocks of polystyrene and again foam for under-back support. The one
feature which the manufacturers helpfully add is the back-rest sling of
canvas, but no thought is given at all to the real purpose of the
neck-rest - most cause injury. The cox's body IS going to move during the
stroke unless it is wedged in, which is dangerous. Therefore it would be
better for the cox to move against stiff expanded polystyrene (to prevent
the knees from acting as shock absorbers) at the foot end, and a flexible
sling at the neck end, rather than impacting on the neck vertebrae every
stroke. With a little practice the cox can learn to keep the legs
extended so that this movement (and hence boat disruption) is minimised,
although what we ought to try and develop is a foam under-pad which would
give friction so that the body moves less, without hurting or restricting
movement (something like a shower floor-mat which is built or Velcro'd
in?) Legs get very stiff if they are continually braced, whether lying or
sitting. Oh, and an under-mat would prevent chilling by the river-water
in winter. Cold muscles get stiffer and damage more easily.
Unfortunately the cox's cockpit design isn't even _on_ the list of
features considered by clubs buying boats. This means the makers are not
encouraged to do any research into what is needed, and often guess or use
a single opinion, rather than really finding out.
Slammed catches exaggerate problems, but they are not the primary cause,
and with 75% of the better clubs (at least in Europe) now realising that
they can go as fast or quicker with a more delicate rowing technique, we
are starting to realise that other factors are more important. I had my
worst back problems in my smoothest-rowing and in fact fastest crew.
Unfortunately some of the most respected international coxes (who could
help change attitudes) spend a lot of their time in the coaching launch
watching their crews scull or pair for much of the year, so they don't
have as much trouble as the club coxes who are always in a 4+ or an 8+,
and often with the less good rowers.
But then coxes are useless appendages, aren't we? According to many
renowned oarsmen. Don't bother responding to that one - I already know a
lot of coxes and cox-appreciaters read this newsgroup. But I bet not
_that_ high a proportion of RSR readers are the primary selectors for
boat-buying in their club.
wibble over and out,
Anyone want to give me some money to buy a boat with then?!?
Deal! Most rowers have back pain as well as extreme muscular and
respiratory discomfort. Why should the rowers have all the fun?
-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet
Bravo Pete! This, coming from a World Champion, has merit. And I know
you've had some pretty macho crews in your time. The year '94 comes to
mind...Congratulations on your victory!!!
because if we coxswains want to get any exercise (so that we can eat,be
healthy, etc) we have to put our already sore backs and backsides into a 1x
long after (or before) the "real" rowers have gone home :)
Yeah, but that doesn't hold water because those same "real rowers" are
going to the weight room or going for a run or a bike ride or running
stairs "long after the real [coxswains] have gone home" too.
On the other hand...... I coxed a "truely macho crew" by which (giving
you the benefit of the doubt) I presume you mean a FAST crew.... and I
didn't have any back problems because my boat was smooooooooth as silk!!
We were a Lightweight boat, but our course-record winning time at Pac-10's
would have placed us THIRD in the Heavyweight championships... and we
weren't even pushed in our final race... who knows how well we would have
done if we had actually been racing against the University of Washington
Heavyweights? :-) (We would have liked the opportunity to find out.)
About drinking enough beer to develop love handles for padding: How many
Cox'ns do you know that have extra body fat lying around??? As opposed to
Heavyweight oarsmen who do???
And while I'm on my little soap-box, why _don't_ Heavyweights think it's
important to keep their body fat to a minimum? Excess weight is excess
weight, whether it's on the rower, or on the boat, or on the Cox'n. I hate
seeing Heavyweight rowers with extra body fat... it's like seeing Kevin
Duckworth of the NBA... how can you be an NBA center and be chubby?? How
can you row the number of miles that college crews row and still have extra
I knew a Heavyweight rower or two who thought that any Cox'n was just
extra dead weight they had to tow around... but these were the same rowers
who had a tire (albeit small) or love handles around their middle... and
they were the ones drinking beer at every chance they got... while their
Cox'n diligently stayed underweight so that his combined body weight,
clothes, cox box, and tool bag all together met the required weight exactly.
Gee, it's a good thing I carry this little collapsable-soap-box around in
my pocket... it sure comes in handy sometimes. Perhaps there's a market
out there for these little things... Hmmmm......
Perhaps you should check out the results of the World Championships 8+
and look at the lineup of the winning boat. You may happen to notice that
Peter Cippolone is a World Champion (and not for the first time.) I think
you could say that his boat was "FAST".
> We were a Lightweight boat, but our course-record winning time at Pac-10's
> would have placed us THIRD in the Heavyweight championships... and we
> weren't even pushed in our final race... who knows how well we would have
> done if we had actually been racing against the University of Washington
> Heavyweights? :-) (We would have liked the opportunity to find out.)
Give it a rest soap-box boy. I rowed at PCRC's in college and I can tell
you there are only 2 (and until recently, just 1) fast crews there - UW
and Cal. Show me any West-Coast lightweight crew that has done anything
back east. I've never even seen or heard of a western lw crew make a
final at IRA much less medal. And how far are the western crews back from
the eastern crews in the lightweight event at San Diego? By the way, did
your "truly macho crew" race any of the eastern crews at San Diego? How
did you do?....That's what I thought.
> About drinking enough beer to develop love handles for padding: How many
> Cox'ns do you know that have extra body fat lying around??? As opposed to
> Heavyweight oarsmen who do???
Those oarsman are the ones that have to carry aroung that extra weight,
so let them worry about it. The coxswain, on the other hand is
deadweight, even though a GOOD coxswain is worth his/her deadweight in
gold. (A not-so-good coxswain is just deadweight.)
> And while I'm on my little soap-box, why _don't_ Heavyweights think it's
> important to keep their body fat to a minimum? Excess weight is excess
> weight, whether it's on the rower, or on the boat, or on the Cox'n. I hate
> seeing Heavyweight rowers with extra body fat... it's like seeing Kevin
> Duckworth of the NBA... how can you be an NBA center and be chubby?? How
> can you row the number of miles that college crews row and still have extra
> body fat??
On this one I agree. There are an awful lot of heavyweight rowers out
there who are too heavy. But I think you'll find that most top collegiate
and elite-level rowers (men) are between 7-10% bodyfat, which is not
exactly overweight. A lot of lightweights, however, have so little
bodyfat that they can't possibly hit their peak performance at weight -
they're too busy spending their time off the water in the fetal position
hallucinating about Twinkies and Snickers.
> Gee, it's a good thing I carry this little collapsable-soap-box around in
> my pocket... it sure comes in handy sometimes. Perhaps there's a market
> out there for these little things... Hmmmm......
I don't know if there's a market out there, but I sure enjoy responding to
people on them. :-) I look forward to your future flames.
That's nice... too bad they don't let you carry your tool bag, etc. with
you when you weigh in.
Kieran Coghlan, Mechanical Engineer, The Boeing Company
Cal Irvine Rowing, '92-'96
"...The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time." --Jack London
Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Boeing Company.
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I agree that Cippolone's boat was fast. But in case anyone misunderstood
me, my comments were meant to imply that: A fast boat is clearly macho,
but a macho boat isn't necessarily fast. The best way to be "truely macho"
is to put open water between you and your nearest competitor. Cippolone
had implied that if a coxswain wasn't having back problems (i.e. a rough
boat) then their crew wasn't macho. I know he's a World Champion, and I
know his boat was fast... thus my giving the benefit of the doubt that, in
the context of his statement, macho = fast. And my opinion is that your
boat doesn't have to be rough in order to be fast. A fast boat may in fact
be rough (giving the coxswain back problems), but a fast boat can also be
Cippolone is speaking from an elite world, and I would agree with most
everything he says in that context. But for this newsgroup, where
pre-elite rowers look to people like Cippolone and other National Team
members for guidance and possible "secrets" to being on the Team, I wanted
to offer the perspective that "bigger, badder, stronger" doesn't
necessarily mean faster. I just wouldn't want pre-elite rowers getting the
idea that (said in cave-man voice) "grunt grunt, me pull hard on oar, me
macho" is the way to be a fast crew. That was why I used the analogies of
lightweight rowers being faster than heavyweight rowers in some cases: my
point was that even though "macho" heavyweights may kick butt on the erg
(vs. lightweights), if they don't know how to row well, it doesn't
matter.... Because the "truely macho" crew is the one crossing the finish
line first - where erg scores don't mean d*ck. Pardon my language.
In International comptetition, ALL the rowers are "bigger, badder,
stronger" - but the crews who win are the crews who row the best. It's the
same principle in lightweight competition because the weight limit is an
equalizer: lightweights can't simply be "bigger" than their opponents, so
they have to row better in order to win. Unfortunately, with college
heavyweight crews, often the crew that wins is the crew that is "bigger,
badder, stronger" simply because they had 8 guys who were 6' 5" tall.
>By the way, did
>your "truly macho crew" race any of the eastern crews at San Diego? How
>did you do?....That's what I thought.
Yes, half our boat did race at San Diego. We raced in the Copley Cup
(Heavyweight class). And we won the Petite Final. I know, what that
really means is that we only placed SEVENTH overall. However, our boat was
made up of 4 lightweights and 4 heavyweights. And what that means is that
we raced teams like Brown, Navy, Yale, UW, Wisco, etc... that were ALL
heavyweights, and that we beat at least 5 of those crews (I don't remember
how many crews were in the entire class, but there were 6 in the Petite Final).
>Those oarsman are the ones that have to carry aroung that extra weight,
>so let them worry about it.
I stand by my original statement: dead weight is dead weight - whether
it's because of a lousy coxswain, water in the boat that should be bailed
out, or excess blubber on the rowers. The fact that they are pulling on
the oars doesn't make their extra 10-20 pounds (per rower) any less of a
burden on the others. And how do the rowers with only 7-10% body fat feel
about having to carry the extra 15 lbs that the 4-seat is packing? It's a
team sport. No one should be packing extra weight... unless, of course,
the team is undefeated... in which case, they can do whatever they want! :-)
>A lot of lightweights... (snip).... spending their time off the water in
the fetal position
>hallucinating about Twinkies and Snickers.
Actually, it was Ice Cream. But it's a good point.
> I don't know if there's a market out there (for soap boxes), but I sure
enjoy responding to
>people on them. :-) I look forward to your future flames.
Agreed. Respond away !!
No offense meant, and none taken.
This is a second hand perspective, but from what I understand from the
people at Princeton, Teti wanted the biggest, baddest, strongest, even
if they were rough. Take the biggest ergs you can find put them in a
boat and get them to row your style. Igor employs similar concepts on
the sculling side. So as far as secrets for the pre-elites it seems
pretty simple pull a big erg, get invited, and try to survive the
process once you are there. There will still always be seat racing and
subjective opinion on technique, but the latest theory would seem to be
get the most macho crew possible and go from there. The guys at
Princeton had a much better insight to all this, so they are inevitably
the last say (i.e. Cippolone), but thats my insignificant impression.
Aside from going to a trainer and having a pinch test done, or better
yet a submersion test, the best (easiest) estimation technique I have
seen is in Barry Sears' book, "Enter the Zone." I'm not advocating his
diet philosophies, you can decide that for your self, but his method for
calculating body fat % is really easy, and fairly accurate&consistant.
If you want it really easy, then check out his web page where there's an
applet that calculates if for you. You just type in your height,
weight, and a couple of other measurements (you'll need a string and a
ruler, or a tape measure) and it spits out your body composition.
Main page - http://www.enterthezone.com/
bodyfat thingie - http://www.enterthezone.com/calculator/default.html
Princeton was refering to the Princeton Training Center, where the sweep
national team trained, not the Princeton University team.
Taken from the Cal Berkeley Men's crew page:
"...Championship on Lake Aiguebelette in Savoie, France, September 7.
Also sharing the championship with Bea was former Cal coxswain, Peter
Cipollone(Cal 94), who adds this world championship to the one he earned
in coxed four in 1994. Bea, a stalwart in last springs Cal...."
You might want to check you sources on that Northeastern info... and
either correct them, or contact Cal and tell them it was a different
Peter Cipollone that coxed for them.
> Daniel Ryan wrote:
> > FWIW, Cipollone did his collegiate time at Northeastern.
> > --
> > Dan Ryan
> > email: danr...@flash.net
> Taken from the Cal Berkeley Men's crew page:
> "...Championship on Lake Aiguebelette in Savoie, France, September 7.
> Also sharing the championship with Bea was former Cal coxswain, Peter
> Cipollone(Cal 94), who adds this world championship to the one he earned
> in coxed four in 1994. Bea, a stalwart in last springs Cal...."
> You might want to check you sources on that Northeastern info... and
> either correct them, or contact Cal and tell them it was a different
> Peter Cipollone that coxed for them.
Hmmm! That is interesting, I raced in a 4+ against Northeastern in
Cincinnati in 94 and could have sworn that was their cox's name. Maybe
Northeastern? Actually, Pete did his collegiate time at Cal - class of
> This is a second hand perspective, but from what I understand from the
> people at Princeton, Teti wanted the biggest, baddest, strongest, even
> if they were rough. Take the biggest ergs you can find put them in a
> boat and get them to row your style. Igor employs similar concepts on
> the sculling side. So as far as secrets for the pre-elites it seems
> pretty simple pull a big erg, get invited, and try to survive the
> process once you are there. There will still always be seat racing
> subjective opinion on technique, but the latest theory would seem to
> get the most macho crew possible and go from there. The guys at
> Princeton had a much better insight to all this, so they are
> the last say (i.e. Cippolone), but thats my insignificant impression.
> Sean Gorman
A first hand perspective [discussions with Mike Teti]. Is that with
only a few weeks to name boats the selection process that you saw is the
only way since you won't be changing the way people row too quickly in
that short of time period. As time rolls out over the next four years,
and todays college students on the team graduate and hopefully are put
into a training situation where they can work together for longer
periods of time, the big erg will differentiate who is in the ballpark,
but consistent performance on the water will play quite a bit in boat