What To Do If Rowing Hurts Your Back

Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Maybe by now we’ve convinced you to finally spend some quality time on the indoor-rowing machine. And, why not? A total-body workout — one that doesn’t involve lots of high-impact jumping just to raise your heart rate — is a pretty convincing reason to row. But, if you’re a rowing-machine newbie, you may have noticed a slight ache in your lower back.
“Lower-back pain usually results from improper form,” explains Neil Totton, instructor at CityRow in NYC. You want to avoid rounding in your back, so keep your chest open and your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the entire interval. “Weak abdominal muscles can cause rowers to overcompensate in the lower spine, which can lead to lower-back pain,” Totton explains. Here’s your quick primer on proper form.
If your back aches while rowing, first focus on improving your posture during the workout. Then, supplement your rowing with exercises that strengthen your core. Totton’s recommended move (and one of our favorites) is the classic plank. We may not be able to hold it for an hour-plus like this girl, but hey — we can always dream.

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