Strap On In

I got an email the other day asking for clarification on where to properly strap in on the rower. Specifically, the writer asked me, “I would love to hear your thoughts on strap position on the flexfoot. I’ve heard across the ball of the foot and also across the crease of the toes. Is this personal preference or will strap position vary person to person assuming each are in the ideal catch position? ”

Correct Row Strap Position
Correct Row Strap Position

This question made me stop and think about how important this step is, yet how so many people just hop on and never give any thought into adjusting the foot flexors. So next time you get ready to row, here are a few things to consider while you’re getting set up. Below is the response I gave:

I always tell my rowers, in general, to strap somewhere between the ball of the foot and the crease of the toes. Because I often get a lot of women rowers, I’ll tell them specifically, “Put the strap across your bunion, or up into your toe cleavage.” They seem to get it every time! However, it is not an exact science and there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you want to be able to get full range of motion on the slide from the catchto the finish.

vertical shins at catch
vertical shins at catch

To achieve this full length, you need to get a vertical shin at the catch. Here’s where variation in anthropometry and flexibility come into play. Taller people, those with very long shins, and those with poor hip or ankle flexibility may have to set the foot flexors lower (longer). This gives them a little more room at the catch and allows the proper positioning of the shins. You don’t want to limit your length toward the flywheel because your feet are set too high. Also, when I get a pregnant woman or someone who carries extra weight/girth around the middle, we usually set the foot stretchers lower (higher number) to accommodate their midsection at the catch. This in turn affects where they strap relative to their height.

Row strap too high
Row strap is too LOW and the stretcher is set too High

On the flip side, if the feet are too low in the stretchers (strap too high), leg drive will be affected. Too low often encourages over compressing at the catch and can have adverse effects on the lower back as it is in a weaker position. Also, if set too low, people may tend to open up too early with body swing on the drive.

Bottom line: Foot position and strap placement is partly personal preference and it does vary from person to person. Figure out your ideal catch position and adjust from there. Somewhere between the crease of the toes and the ball of the foot is a good rule of thumb.

 

Author
Leeny Hoffman, CrossFit STL Coach

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