Are Rowing Machines Bad For Your Back?

Back pain after a workout on the rowing may lead to a question about the exercise equipment. Are Rowing Machines Bad For Your Back?

Is this backache due to the rowing? Well, it depends. If your sitting posture, foot positioning, or your rowing sequence is not correct then rowing can be hard on your back.

What if you are doing it right and still experiencing some back pain as a newbie then it is normal.

Rowing does not have a downside only in fact they provide a full-body workout for strengthening your back and is also a great treat for weight loss. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through every aspect of rowing pertinent to your back health first & suffering in the next half. 

Strengthening Back by Rowing

Rowing is the best workout for strengthening back muscles. You can build bulk muscles with the resistance training of rowing machines.

Generally, trainers add rowing to your regime if you face bad back issues. It reinforces your back, core, glutes, and posture.

Toughens Back Muscles

When you move your body on a rowing machine by following the rowing sequence properly, your back muscles bear the impact to pull you on the rail. Your elbows, shoulders, butt, and legs share all the strain. So, it is less intense for your back.

Staying in a hunch position all day long will weaken your muscles. A low potent exercise keeps them moving and results in muscle fortification.

Builds Waist

You have to push your lower back with your lower body muscles, including lumber, belly, and muscles around your waist.

Your body will start losing fat, and you will have a reduced waistline.

Maintains Posture Of The Spine

Due to modern lifestyles such as continuous technological activity, posture disorientation has become a significant issue such as hardback. It involves reverse neck curves, upper back dislocation, and spinal mechanics dysfunction.

Rowing engages and improves all muscles around your spine that have disoriented with time. Moreover, it is a backache cure for spinal stenosis, back pain, and osteoarthritis.

Sitting on a Rowing machine with stretched back and open shoulders may feel uncomfortable to a newbie. 

How Rowing Machines Are Bad for Your Back?

Improper rowing can lead to backache problems. In the points jotted down, I have explained how not to row to have a healthy back. Make sure you are not missing anything.

Are Rowing Machines Bad For Your Back?

Early rowers often feel back pain after a few hours of exercise. If you are doing it wrong or on verge of quitting it then just STOP!

Wrong Sitting Posture

Your sitting posture matters the most when rowing. If you are not sitting straight you might suffer from lower back pain.

You have to sit on your hips properly not with your hips tucked underneath you to avoid a curved back. The idea here is to Sit forward on our sit bones.

Leaning forward while rowing is so crucial, if not then you’ll overstretch your lower spine with an induced back strain. 

How Upper Middle Back Hurts Due to an Incorrect Stroke?

Well, the answer is simple. Using your shoulders for a back drive instead of your hips and legs will cause pain in the shoulder blades.

How not to Engage your Shoulders to Avoid Upper Back Pain?

There are 3 main parts of a stroke sequence. Let’s break them all down. 

1- Driving with legs back

2- Swinging back with the core (This way you will cover maximum distance per stroke)

3- Finishing with arms

Once you practice this sequence your lower back and hip won’t experience any pain. Let’s understand which mistake triggers the wrong sequence of a stroke.

Relying on your Feet Strap 

Feet straps on the rowing machine save you from falling backward in a stroke. But what mistake I did when I was rowing, I relied too much on the feet strap and I swung with my core way back which engaged my shoulders to push back hard. 

When I rectified this mistake by unstrapping the foot straps all my cores were involved and I saved myself from the shoulder pain. So you are not going to commit this mistake! Unstrap your feet and rely on your cores to perform the rowing right.

Setting Foot Position Too High with Strap On

It is absolutely possible that you can still experience the lower back although you are sitting on your sit bones. 

I can tell you the secret of this pain. You are setting up your feet too high. Am I right?

Actually, what happens is that positioning your feet high raises your legs up in front of you. Which ultimately prevents you from sitting in a forward position on your hips.

Also, it will prevent you from sitting in a nice neutral spine and lean forward position.

Large Midsection or Belly

If you are having a gym buddy with you of the same height, the foot positioning working for him might not work for you. 

It is obvious if your buddy’s not having a big tummy will certainly sit in a normal lean-forward position. But for you due to the large midsection, you have to set feet plates lower as comfortably as possible.

Rushing Towards Next Stroke. Is Rowing Machine Workout Bad for your Knees?

Set Your Feet Lower To Avoid Knee Pain

Rowing machines can be bad for your knees if you rush for your next stroke.

Rowing with more intensity means you drive back hard. Driving back hard doesn’t mean that you have to rush up for the next stroke.

Just relax for 2 seconds with a handle to your chest and core & legs straight. This pause stroke will keep your knees from springing & bouncing back. Moreover, your knees can experience immense pain if you do not take a pause.

Although, you are taking a pause before the next stroke and still your back hurts it means you are doing overwork. 

Overwork will force your muscles to put more effort into moving the machine. They may have short-term paralysis due to excessive lactic acid secretion or rupture because of intense pressure.

Tip. You can also practice a pause stroke for your arms. When you pull a row to your chest swinging slightly back and hold there for a second then your arms come back then let the legs back up.

Having the understanding of driving back and returning up are two different things. If you are aware of it you will save yourself from pain. 

After one intense stroke just slows down, gather your strength then push yourself back hard this way you will not be hurting your back or exhausting yourself too soon.

Driving back with higher intensity with a pause can help you burn up to 150 calories in 15 minutes. 

Rowing Improperly

Usually, beginners are prone to rowing-induced back pain. They commonly suffer from:

Thoracic back pain

Lower back pain (Lumbago)

If you put all pressure on the upper body like the shoulders and lean your head forward. You will suffer from upper back pain in between your shoulder blades. You might suffer a lower area stroke if a strain is on the lumbar area.

Incorrect Console Setting

A console on the rowing machine keeps track of your speed, works as an electronic trainer, and is an entertainment source.

If the screen is below your eye level, you need to lean forward to check your performance. It will impose stress on the neck, and thus will cause sciatica or herniated disc.

Fix Rowing Backache

Problems Due To Incorrect Rowing Posture

If you have the hardback, never assume it is due to rowing. Look for the root cause and consult the physician. If it is because of the rowing machine, then you can follow these steps to fix the issue:

  • Slightly massage the affected area with warm oil.
  • Stop workouts till recovery.
  • Practice stretches such as bending forward.

There are chances that the rower may have a weaker area on his back. The only solution is to make other body parts strong enough to hold the pressure. Now you should build your muscles by doing yoga.

Ending words

After an intense workout induced by a wrong rowing sequence, and a wrong sitting posture new rowers feel toughness in the back. It leads you to think Is Rowing Machine Workout Good For Your Back or not? Well, it’s not the equipment. In fact, bad rowing techniques result in middle or lower back pain. 

Learn basic techniques from professionals when you are at the beginner level to prevent mishaps. Always follow the slow and steady rules for a better training experience to avoid abnormal symptoms.

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