Rowing is a great way to get fit and allow you to enjoy the beauty of your local river or lake.
Rowing is a fantastic sport for developing core, leg and arm strength plus all the cardiovascular benefits. Unfortunately, given the nature of the sport, it does have a reasonably high incidence of lower back and overuse injuries.
Fun Fact: Did you know that improperly supported forces approaching 1000N can be loaded through your lumbar spine if imbalances or errors in your technique are present? That’s over 100kg through your spine, every stroke!
The ribs are another area that can come under a lot of stress as a result of rowing and fractures are common to athletes who train and compete often. Unfortunately, it’s not until the athlete is in significant pain that they bring the issue up with their coach – at this point it can be too late and prolonged time off the water is inevitable. Early chest wall pain identification is key!
Rowing injuries can also come in the form of muscle strains or tendon friction injuries.
The rowing stroke is a repeated continuous cycle, from a position with the legs flexed, elbows straight to a fully extended knee position and elbow flexion with the oar handle drawn into the body. A strong back and core strength is a vital component to increase power through the stroke and avoid injury. Poor technique is common, especially in novice rowers, and unless this is rectified, injuries are almost inevitable.
Rowers should always be looking to improve the way they row to reduce their risk of injury. To avoid rowing injuries you should ensure you undertake core and strength training that will provide you with the muscular power to cope with the demands of the sport as well as a flexibility program to ensure you have the necessary range of motion to perform the stroke.
Rowing Injury Risk Factors
Some of the risk factors that can increase your risk of sustaining a rowing injury include:
- Poor technique
- Lack of fitness
- Musculoskeletal limitations
- Unsupervised resistance training
- Excessive running as part of land training.
Rowing Injury Prevention Suggestions
- Undertake a PhysioWorks Pre-Season Rowing Screening – have your biomechanics, muscle lengths and strengths assessed by an experienced physiotherapist to assess your weaknesses to prevent an injury.
- Attain a good level of general health and fitness.
- Warm up thoroughly.
- Stretching is an important part of your cool down routine.
Immediate Injury Management Advice:
- Stop immediately if an injury occurs to help prevent further damage.
- Rowing through the pain will only aggravate the injury.
- Seek prompt treatment of injury.
- Early management will mean less time away from rowing.
- Treat your soft tissue injuries (ligament sprains, muscle strains, bumps and bruises) with rest, ice, compression, elevation until you seek the advice of your health professional.
- Do not resume activity until you have completely recovered from injury and have been advises it is safe by your health professional.
- Watch your technique and address any technique errors.
- If you experience any discomfort in your chest (suspicion of a rib stress fracture), in line with Rowing Australia guidelines, 4 days of no water training is highly recommended.
Being able to perform a pain-free push-up, sit-up, deep-breath, cough and rib spring as well as experiencing no Night Pain or pain with activities of daily living (ADL) is recommended before returning to full rowing training.
Common Rowing Injuries
The most common rowing injury is low back pain – closely followed by the knee! Given rowing is a repetitive sport, it is no surprise that the evidence shows that most injuries are overuse in nature and not so much traumatic (73.8% overuse vs 26.2% traumatic). So any small musculoskeletal limitation placed under the repetitive stress could develop into an injury. As rowing incorporates all the joints of the body to various degrees, an injury can be sustained to any joint. Aside from the back and knee, common rowing injuries include upper back and neck pain, muscle injuries, knee pain, wrist tendinopathies from oar rotations and the obvious hand blisters. Rib stress fractures tend to occur in athletes who are overtraining.
FAQs Rowing Injuries
What is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, help patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help to encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing activities of daily living while assisting them to remain functionally independent.
There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.
Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management
Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:
- Joint Mobilisation (gentle joint gliding techniques)
- Joint Manipulation
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Minimal Energy Techniques (METs)
- Soft Tissue Techniques
Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, just to name a few.
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.
Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in the field of acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.
Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.
- Muscle Stretching
- Core Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.
Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.
Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy skill to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.
Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.
Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.
Plus Much More
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your individual problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.
What If You Delay Treatment?
Explaining the Different Massage Techniques
Longitudinal gliding is a traditional effective massage technique administered in the direction of the blood flow. It aids the fluid dispersion from the injury site and thus helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It is also instrumental in relaxing tight muscles.
Kneading can be performed in different ways and described by the part of a hand used to accomplish the massage, e.g. thumb kneading and palm kneading. The massage pressure applied must vary according to the purpose of the massage. The rhythm and rate of the movement are equally important as the load is applied intermittently.
Myofascial release is a manual technique for stretching the fascia to balance the body. Your fascia, located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone, is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body. Injuries, stress, trauma, and poor posture can cause restriction to the fascia, and the goal of myofascial release is to release fascia restriction and restore its tissue.
Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender muscle tissue to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Trigger points are active centres of muscular hyperactivity, which often cross-over with acupuncture points. You will also find that common trigger points are what the average person refers to as muscular "knots".
Transverse friction is transverse connective tissue therapy applied directly by the fingers. Transverse frictions use an oscillating pressure applied across the direction of the tissue fibres. This technique is primarily used on tendon or ligament injuries to help break down thickened, pain-producing scar tissue. Unreduced lesions are likely to cause further irritation and degenerate more quickly than they should.
Rhythmic compression into muscles is used to create deep hyperaemia and softening effect in the tissues. This technique may occur as a warm-up for more in-depth, more specific massage work. Sports massage utilises compression massage.
Cross-fibre friction techniques create a stretching and broadening effect. It can also assist in reducing adhesions and in helping build reliable, flexible repair during the healing process.
PNF Stretches (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) combine passive stretching, and isometrics with your muscle alternatingly stretched passively and contracted. The method targets nerve receptors in muscles to extend the muscle length.
What Massage Style is Best for You?
Yes. Massage styles and techniques can be confusing, which is why your PhysioWorks Massage Therapist is a highly-trained professional who understands was is right for your body. If you have any questions as to what massage techniques are the best for you, please call us to discuss your massage requirements. Or, let your massage therapist works their wonders on your body during a consultation.
- joint, ligament and soft tissue mobility
- muscle strength, power and speed
- balance and proprioception
- prevention tips
- performance improvement.
Heat PacksThere is no doubt about it, applying a heat pack to an aching body part provides almost instant relief from pain and stiffness.
How Does Heat Ease Your Pain?For centuries, applying heat is a simple yet effective way to manage your pain and joint or muscular stiffness. Deep and penetrating heat not only relieves your pain but also enhances your recovery process.By applying a heat pack to your painful joints and muscles, the heat stimulates your sensory receptors to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, resulting in an instant and effective pain relief.Even if you are a chronic pain sufferer, heat packs can help relieve your discomfort - NOW and for many years ahead!If you've been suffering from either stiffness or pain that feels better when you apply heat, have a warm relaxing bath or a hot shower. Alternatively, a microwave heat pack could be the best investment you'll make this year.
How Does Heat Help You?
- By increasing tissue elasticity, heat reduces your resting muscle tension and helps to relax those nasty painful knots.
- Your pain quickly eases via the sedation and soothing of any pain-irritated nerve endings.
- The profound heating effect increases your blood flow to the painful area, bringing more nutrients to the injured area while flushing out the damaged debris. This flush-out helps to quicken your healing rate.
- The deep heat also promotes a speedier healing rate by stimulating your natural metabolic rate. In other words, there is more energy available to fix the injury quicker.
What's the Advantage of Wheat Heat Packs?Can be heated in a microwave with a turntable in about two minutes.The durable but soft fabric allows for comfortable use and an ability to mould to your body shape, which is great for those super curvy areas such as your neck, knees and shoulders.You can even pop it in bed with you during those cold winter nights!
PhysioWorks will offer you a free reassessment and treatment with one of the senior physiotherapists, should you not be fully satisfied with your treatment. We are here to assist you to to resolve your physical health problems. Please contact your physiotherapist or reception team as soon as possible if you have any concerns.
Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning or are recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose.Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.
What Exercises Should You Do?Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Please take caution with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better. Thus simply isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person.You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.
What Happens When You Stop Exercises?Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures are inadequately supported and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage.It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific for your needs.The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.
Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you just stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it was working? We would hope not!Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work of you don't take it as prescribed by your health professional.So, next time you skip your "exercise dose" just remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please contact your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.
Private Health Insurance Rebates
PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for the majority of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.
However, Private Health Funds do vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover that you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.
HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims
Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system. Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. For more information, please visit Hicaps for the latest funds which can use their instant claiming system.
Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.
- All Private Health Insurance Funds including BUPA, Medibank Private, HCF
- For a full list of Hicaps instant claim funds see here: Hicaps Funds
- HCF More for Muscles Program
PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies including:
- Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
- Department of Veterans' Affairs
- CTP & Sports Insurers