St Albans Osteopathy Blog

Rowing and Kayaking

Rowers, whether competitive or just recreational, repeat the rowing motion over and over again. This repetitive motion can lead to overuse injuries. Incorrect form can also lead to chronic injuries. Some of the more common injuries that affect the rower are wrist and shoulder tendonitis, knee bursitis, patella tendonitis, and lower back pain. 

Most Common Rowing and Kayaking Injuries

  • Wrist and Shoulder Tendonitis: Tendonitis in the rower is commonly caused by the repetitive strain of gripping the oars or rotating the shoulders during the rowing motion. This type of tendonitis is often caused by repetitive movements in a range of movement outside of normal use or with excessive force. It can also be caused if the motion is done using incorrect form, placing the tendons in a path outside the normal range. Tendonitis is commonly treated by discontinuing the activity that caused the problem, NSAIDs, and ice.
  • Knee Bursitis: Bursitis is caused when the bursa, a fluid filled sac that cushions the tendons and ligaments where they cross the bone, becomes irritated and inflamed. It is commonly accompanied with redness, pain and swelling in the area. In a few cases the bursa can rupture and the fluid will leak out and impair the cushioning ability of the bursa. Repetitive flexion and extension of the knee, such as the bending and flexing of knee during the full rowing motion, can irritate the bursa on the outside or top of the knee. Rest, ice and NSAIDs are usually enough to heal the condition. Strength and flexibility training during rehabilitation may help reduce the chance of bursitis recurring.
  • Patella Tendonitis: Patella tendonitis in rowers is most commonly due to overuse, or incorrect rowing form. The repetitive bending of the knee during rowing causes the tendon to rub over the bone and cause inflammation that, in turn, aggravates the condition, setting up a cycle of inflammation and pain. Tendonitis treatment includes rest, NSAIDs, and ice. Increasing flexibility in the quadriceps will relieve some of the tension on the tendon and helps heal and prevent future problems.
  • Lower Back Pain: The bending and straightening during the rowing motion can cause pain in the lower back due to poor posture or fatigue. The lower back muscles can quickly become fatigued during rowing. Muscle strains are possible, as are disc problems. Lower back pain can be treated with rest, stretching, and massage. More severe injuries and pain may require professional medical help.

Injury Prevention Strategies

  • Conditioning and training in proper form can help prevent injury.
  • Instruction in the proper form when rowing will help prevent injuries caused by incorrect body mechanics.
  • Strengthening and muscular endurance training will help ensure that the muscles are ready for the strain and repetitive use of rowing.
  • Proper training on water safety and swimming will also help prevent drowning or near-drowning injuries.
  • Flexibility training will prepare the muscles for the activity and help prevent the muscle strain of rowing.

3 Rowing and Kayaking Stretches

  1. Arm-up Rotator Stretch: Stand with your arm out and your forearm pointing upwards at 90 degrees. Place a broom stick in your hand and behind your elbow. With your other hand pull the bottom of the broom stick forward.
  2. Reaching-up Shoulder Stretch: Place one hand behind your back and then reach up between your shoulder blades.
  3.  Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.
May 3rd 2019

Philip Bayliss, St Albans Osteopathy, 43 Thames Street, Christchurch 8013 ☎️ 03 356 1353