If you're not a rower, you might think that most rowing injuries are in the arms, shoulders or back - but you'd be wrong. If you are a rower, you might think that leg and hip strains are most common, but that's also wrong. The most common injury amongst rowers is the low back.
The low back is what connects the upper body and the lower body so, in full-body sports like rowing, there is a lot of movement and pressure put through it which leads to repetitive strain injuries.
The low back can move in almost any direction, owing to the huge number of joints. In rowing, however, there are 2 main low back movements. Flexion - bending forwards, and rotation - twisting.
Rotation can be minimised through using proper equipment and technique, but flexion can't. Flexion is part of normal rowing form, so you have to condition your body to cope with the stress, instead of simply avoiding it.
To condition your lower back to allow for excessive flexion, you have to train the muscles that allow for low back extension - the opposite movement. By keeping the extensors strong, you prevent the flexors from altering the joint shape and axis, and allow for full range of movement.
To strengthen the low back extensors, try adding regular back extensions and super-mans to your regular exercise regime.
If you want more info on rowing ailments, check out 'Common Rowing Injuries' by Luke Nichols and Ebony Dunne from SYSSM, or you can contact the team at SYSSM on (03) 9826 2122
Dr Mitch Clark