Can Home Rowing Be Harmful?

We hear so often how rowing is one of the best exercises you can do, but can home rowing be harmful? In a one-word answer, it has to be “yes”, but what’s the best way to avoid hurting yourself?

Please remember that this article is merely reporting opinion from our own research and does not in any way offer any professional or medical advice. Everyone is different, therefore strength, weaknesses and tolerance can vary greatly from person to person.

If you’re taking up any activity which has the potential to cause you damage, you should always seek medical advice first to be on the safe side.

Can Home Rowing Be Harmful to Everyone?

There is, of course no simple answer to this question. To demonstrate this, there was an article a while ago in the UK’s Guardian newspaper which reported that a BBC television presenter who’d had a stroke said he thought it was caused by heavy overworking and an intense session on a rowing machine – you can read it here.

One thing is for sure, you’re best to take things gently, particularly when you first start out. You can gradually build up your strength and will therefore be able to push yourself harder bit by bit. This should lessen the chance of injury.

There are obviously many different types of home exercise equipment, but it is widely regarded that a home rower is one of the best. This is because it works more of your body than any other equipment, it’s said a rowing machine exercises between 80 and 90% of your muscles. Both your upper and lower body benefit from it. Not only does rowing help to build strength but it’s also excellent cardiovascular exercise, so the benefits are clear to see.

Before you even think about pushing yourself hard, you should do warm up exercises so your muscles don’t get overly stressed when you do begin your full work out. Take a look at the video below, which gives you an idea of how you should do this.

Once you’ve warmed up you can then begin your session. There are various routines for home rowing so it’s best to get one which is best for you. It’s all too easy to just sit and row, but that’s not a good idea.

So, can home rowing be harmful? Well it’s a low impact exercise so it’s better than some other types as it doesn’t impinge on the body too much. It can build arms, legs and the back without putting extra pressure on the knees. Having said that, it is possible to cause knee damage. If you have a knee injury, you’re not advised to row as you’ll be working the joint, if not putting extra pressure on it.

As this exercise is mainly a pulling action, it will put pressure on the arms, biceps and back. This is where you need to be careful, particularly with the back. The most common injury from rowing is to the lower back because of the constant bending backward and forwards. The shoulders, neck and upper back can also suffer damage if you’re not careful.

It’s possible to cause shoulder damage if you also sit at a computer for long periods. The combination of the pressure this can cause, together with the pull of rowing can lead to joint damage. The chance of this happening is reduced if you do correct warm up exercises before rowing and take regular rest periods from being in front of your computer.

The ribs are another area where you can cause injury due to the extra stress rowing puts them under. This can be a problem for athletes who tend to train or compete more often than those who are casually exercising. It’s not uncommon for athletes to suffer cracked ribs from rowing too hard and long.

Muscle strain is quite common, particularly in the arms and around the elbows and as already mentioned, in the back. Wrists can also suffer because of any twisting actions and blisters on the hand are fairly common. Wearing gloves can help prevent blisters to some degree.

Often, common sense will prevent you getting hurt, as you’ll know your body and what it’s capable of. Poor technique can easily lead to injury as can lack of fitness and overtraining. Keep your body in good shape, make sure you’re healthy and don’t overdo it!

Best Practice

It isn’t usually the type of rower you have that can cause problems, but more the way you use it. The more expensive ones do tend to be more comfortable and give an all-round better experience. Having said that, cheaper ones will also do a good job.

We’ve already mentioned technique and how important it is in order to help avoid injury. This can be taught if you’re a member of a gym, but if you’re not take a look at the video below.

Remember warm up before you start and stretch to cool down afterwards. Sit in the rowing machine correctly. Start gently and build up, follow a routine that’s been professionally drawn up. If you feel any pain stop immediately and don’t row again until you have completely recovered otherwise you might cause permanent damage. Can home rowing be harmful? Of course, but with a little common sense and taking the correct action, injury can often be avoided.