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Imagine the powerful strokes, the fierce competition, and the unparalleled adrenaline rush of rowing.

This captivating sport, however, has a hidden side.

Common rowing injuries that can dampen your spirit and keep you sidelined.

So, before you venture out on the water, let’s dive deep into the world of common rowing sport injuries.

From lower back troubles to tendonitis, and even the perils of sunburn and hypothermia.

Knowledge is power, after all, and awareness is your first line of defense.

Lower back injuries (herniated disc, muscle strain)

Lower back injuries are common in rowing sports and can be caused by poor technique, inadequate stretching, or overexertion.

Often, rowers experience a herniated disc, where the cushioning between the vertebrae is displaced, and muscle strain due to overuse or sudden movements.

These injuries can cause pain, stiffness, numbness, and limited mobility, making rowing difficult or impossible.

Shoulder injuries (rotator cuff, impingement)

Shoulder injuries in rowing sports are often related to the rotator cuff and impingement.

Rotator cuff injuries involve the tendons and muscles that help stabilize the shoulder joint and can be caused by repetitive motions, poor technique, or lack of stretching.

Impingement, a condition where the shoulder blade rubs against the tendons and bursa, can also result in pain and discomfort during rowing motions.

Rib stress fractures

Rib stress fractures are a painful yet common rowing injury characterized by small cracks in the rib bones due to repetitive stress on the ribs during rowing motions.

This injury typically results in persistent pain, which can worsen with deep breaths, coughing, or twisting motions.

Healing can take several weeks or months and may require rest, pain relief measures, and a gradual return to rowing activity.

Wrist injuries (sprains, strains)

Wrist injuries in rowing sports can be caused by repetitive motions, sudden impacts, or incorrect technique.

Sprains and strains are common and involve damage to the ligaments or muscles surrounding the wrist joint.

Symptoms of these injuries include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the wrist normally, which can negatively impact rowing performance.

Hand injuries (blisters, calluses)

Hand injuries are prevalent in rowing sports and are usually a result of constant gripping and pulling motions on the oar handle.

Blisters and calluses are common and can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty gripping the oar. Properly fitting gloves and maintaining good hand hygiene can help prevent or reduce these injuries.

Overuse injuries (from repetitive motion)

Overuse injuries are common in rowing sports due to the repetitive nature of the motions involved.

These injuries can affect different parts of the body, such as muscles, tendons, and bones, and are caused by repeated stress over time without adequate rest and recovery.

Symptoms vary depending on the area affected and may include pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Prevention includes proper technique, stretching, and avoiding excessive training.

Knee injuries (tendonitis)

Knee injuries in rowing sports can often be attributed to tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons surrounding the knee joint.

Caused by repetitive motions, poor technique, or excessive training, tendonitis can result in pain, swelling, and difficulty with knee movement.

Treatment generally involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as addressing any contributing factors such as technique or training.

Tendonitis (from repetitive motion)

Repetitive motion injuries, such as tendonitis, are prevalent in rowing sports due to constant stress on the muscles and tendons involved in rowing movements.

Tendonitis can affect various parts of the body and is characterized by inflammation, pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Proper technique, stretching, and avoiding excessive training can help prevent tendonitis injuries.

Neck injuries (muscle strain)

Neck injuries, such as muscle strains, are common in rowing sports due to the repetitive motions and force required during the rowing motion.

These strains can cause pain, stiffness, and limited mobility, making it challenging to maintain proper posture and technique during rowing.

Addressing factors such as technique and stretching can help prevent and alleviate neck strain injuries.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a common concern among rowers due to the physically demanding nature of the sport.

Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, and decreased performance.

Drinking sufficient water and replacing electrolytes during training sessions and competitions is essential to prevent dehydration and maintain optimal rowing performance.

Hip injuries (hip impingement)

Hip injuries in rowing sports can include hip impingement, a condition where the hip joint experiences abnormal contact between the bones and surrounding soft tissue.

Caused by repetitive motions, poor technique, or underlying anatomical issues, hip impingement can result in pain, stiffness, and limited mobility, impacting rowing performance.

Proper stretching, technique, and addressing underlying issues can help prevent and treat hip impingement injuries.

Sunburn

Sunburn is a common concern for rowers due to the extended exposure to sunlight during training and competitions.

Sunburn can cause painful, red skin and potentially more severe complications, such as peeling, blisters, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Rowers should protect themselves from sunburn by applying sunscreen, wearing hats, and using protective clothing during outdoor rowing activities.

Elbow injuries (tennis elbow)

Elbow injuries in rowing sports can include tennis elbow, a condition where the tendons on the outer part of the elbow become inflamed due to repetitive motion and stress.

Rowers may experience pain, stiffness, and decreased grip strength as a result of tennis elbow, impacting their performance. Proper technique, stretching, and modification of training can help prevent and treat this injury.

Ankle sprains

While less common, ankle sprains can still occur in rowing sports, particularly during on-land training activities or boarding and disembarking boats.

Sprains involve stretched or torn ligaments in the ankle and can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty walking or placing weight on the affected ankle.

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are recommended for treating ankle sprains.

Hypothermia (in cold weather conditions)

Hypothermia is a potential concern for rowers in cold weather conditions, as the body loses heat more rapidly than it can produce it.

Hypothermia can lead to confusion, fatigue, and impaired coordination, which can negatively impact rowing performance and safety.

Wearing appropriate cold-weather gear, staying dry, and monitoring body temperature can help prevent hypothermia in rowing sports.

Heat exhaustion/heat stroke

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can be a concern for rowers during hot and humid conditions.

These conditions can result in symptoms such as excessive sweating, dizziness, nausea, and potentially life-threatening complications.

Rowers should take steps to stay cool, hydrated, and take breaks as needed in extreme heat.

Injuries from falling off the boat

Falling off the boat is a risk for rowers, particularly in rough water conditions or during training mishaps.

Injuries from these incidents can range from bruises and scrapes to more severe injuries, such as broken bones, head injuries, or even drowning.

Proper safety equipment, swimming ability, and training can help prevent and mitigate the consequences of falling off the boat.

How to Treat Rowing Sport Injuries

  1. For lower back and neck injuries, apply ice and rest the affected area. You may also consider using over-the-counter pain relievers. Consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and possible physical therapy exercises to aid in recovery.
  2. Shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee injuries benefit from rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Seek medical advice if pain persists or worsens, as more severe injuries may require additional treatment, such as therapy or surgery.
  3. Rib stress fractures and overuse injuries typically require rest from rowing activity, pain relief measures, and a gradual return to rowing after recovery. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance on recovery and rehabilitation.
  4. Hand injuries, like blisters and calluses, can be treated using protective gloves, good hand hygiene, and occasionally over-the-counter pain relief measures. Consult a healthcare professional if the area shows signs of infection or extreme pain.
  5. Tendonitis should be addressed with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Healthcare professionals may provide guidance on proper stretching, technique, and training to prevent future occurrences.
  6. For dehydration and heat-related illnesses, ensure proper hydration and electrolyte consumption. In extreme cases, seek medical attention for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  7. Ankle sprains and injuries from falling off the boat should initially be managed through the RICE method. If pain or swelling worsens or persists, seek professional medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How to Prevent Rowing Sport Injuries

Rowing is a popular and physically demanding sport that is associated with various injuries.

By understanding common rowing injuries and implementing preventative measures, athletes can minimize their risk and maximize their performance on the water.

  • Practice proper technique to avoid putting excessive stress on your body and ensure you are performing rowing motions correctly.
  • Warm up and stretch before each training session or competition to increase flexibility and prevent injuries.
  • Include strength training in your routine to help build and maintain muscle mass, which can help support and protect joints.
  • Maintain a balanced training schedule, allowing for adequate rest and recovery to help prevent overuse injuries.
  • Stay hydrated during both training and competitions to prevent dehydration and maintain optimal athletic performance.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear when necessary, such as gloves for hand protection, sunscreen for sun protection, and cold-weather gear for harsh weather conditions.
  • Monitor your body for signs of injury, pain, or discomfort, and consult a professional if needed to address the issue promptly.

FAQ

What are some common rowing injuries?

Common rowing injuries include lower back injuries (herniated disc, muscle strain), shoulder injuries (rotator cuff, impingement), rib stress fractures, wrist injuries (sprains, strains), hand injuries (blisters, calluses), overuse injuries, knee injuries (tendonitis), tendonitis, neck injuries (muscle strain), dehydration, hip injuries (hip impingement), sunburn, elbow injuries (tennis elbow), ankle sprains, hypothermia, heat exhaustion/heat stroke, and injuries from falling off the boat.

How can I treat lower back, neck, and tendonitis injuries from rowing?

For lower back, neck, and tendonitis injuries, applying ice and rest to the affected area can help. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also be beneficial. Consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and possible physical therapy exercises to aid in recovery.

What measures can I take to prevent rowing injuries?

To prevent rowing injuries, practice proper technique, warm up and stretch before training, include strength training in your routine, maintain a balanced training schedule, stay hydrated, wear appropriate protective gear, and monitor your body for signs of injury or discomfort.

How can I manage hand injuries, such as blisters and calluses, in rowing?

Hand injuries like blisters and calluses can be treated using protective gloves and maintaining good hand hygiene. Over-the-counter pain relief measures may also be helpful. Consult a healthcare professional if the area shows signs of infection or extreme pain.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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