Is Rowing Ok for My Lower Back

Posted by Lloyd on April 26, 2011

Dear Expert:

I finally found a machine I actually enjoy using. What is unique about rowing compared to other types of exercise? Is rowing OK for people with low back discomfort?


Rowing can be a fantastic cardiovascular exercise, especially if you enjoy doing it! It employs a large percentage of your muscles to perform the exercise. From your legs to your low back to your abdominals and your shoulders and arms, it engages these muscles along with the heart and circulatory system.

A limitation of rowing is that the smaller muscles of the arms and forearms often become fatigued prematurely, which causes some localized discomfort in these areas.

As a result, a person might not be able to continue for the desired duration (20 to 30 minutes). To help combat this, switch from an overhand to an underhand grip every two or three minutes and row this way for 10 to 15 strokes.

People with acute low back injuries should stay away from the rowing machine until the injury has healed. Also, proper rowing technique is very important in both the effectiveness and the safety of this exercise. For more information on rowing, check out my article on Rowing.

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