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Get ready for the beach rowing in the gym

With summer upon us, most of us dreaming of getting away and lying on a beach. But in the warmer weather the thought of going out for a run is enough to put off even the keenest of fitness enthusiasts.  The local gym springs to mind as the best place to do some exercise in cooler (air conditioned) comfort. 

In recent years the indoor rowing machine has become a popular piece of cardio equipment for not only warm ups but also that ‘all over’ body workout. 

Used incorrectly however the rower or ‘erg’ can cause injury, especially to the lower back area. 

Follow these simple tips and not only will you lower your risk of injury, you will get far more out of your indoor rowing and increase your fitness dramatically.

Whether you are Sir Steve Redgrave or not the rowing stroke can be broken down into three phase

  1. Catch:  This is the point where you are at the front of the slide.  Your ankles are tucked up under your buttocks, your arms should be straight, your back should be as straight as possible without being uncomfortable
  2. Drive:  This is the power part of the stroke.  Initially only push with your legs keeping your back and arms straight.  Once your legs are nearly flat begin to lean back with your body and then lastly pull the handle to your chest with your arms.  The correct order is Legs.  Body.  Arms.  Your legs are much stronger than your arms so use them!
  3. Recovery: The easiest part of the stroke. During on water rowing the boat moves close to maximum speed during this phase.  Make sure your knees stay flat until the handle goes over the top of them.  Then bend your knees so you begin to come up the slide towards the ‘catch’ position again.  Be sure to keep your arms straight.

Follow these three phases and you will greatly increase your power and fitness and reduce the load on your spine.

Happy Rowing!

Darryl Reid of Clinic Central is a two time New Zealand Rowing Champion and is the  New Zealand Rowing Physiotherapist. He is off to Beijing and will be keeping us upto date of  Physio activities from the Olympics

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