5 Most Common Rowing Injuries

5 Most Common Rowing Injuries

What are the most common rowing injuries?

  1. Extensor Tenosynovitis of the Wrist
  2. Lower Back Pain
  3. Rib Fracture
  4. Shoulder Impingements
  5. Knee Pain

1. Extensor Tenosynovitis of the Wrist

Extensor tenosynovitis frequently occurs in the wrists of many rowers. It stems from repetitive movements and intense stress on the wrist and hand. There is severe inflammation in the affected tendons of these areas. This injury will typically occur to high-intensity rowers in early spring that have to bear cold weather on the water. It usually results in immense pain, swelling, and creaking when the wrist makes any movements. This pain may occur if rowers have a large handle to grasp or grip the handle too harshly. To prevent this from happening, rowers must keep their hands warm while rowing.

2. Lower Back Pain

Due to the nature of the sport, lower back pain is normal for rowers. They are frequently in a hunched position while yanking the handle on a boat or stationary rower. This is the second most common area to injure in collegiate rowing. This sort of pain in the lumbar region of the lower back may be due to muscle strains, stress fractures or sometimes even lumbar disc disease. To prevent this type of injury, rowers must prioritize core flexibility and stabilization training in their routine. Rowers need to strengthen the support in their back and have strong lumbar resilience.

3. Rib Fracture

Rib pain can lead to painful stress fractures or microscopic cracks in the bone, which is very typical in this sport. Rib stress fractures account for 10% of all rowing injuries. These injuries will commonly occur during periods of hard training during the winter and early spring seasons. These athletes tend to be rowing with a low stroke rate, yet high load per stroke. Rib stress fractures usually start with the aching in the chest and develop into a more serious chest injury. Early diagnosis, avoiding excessive lifting, and incorporating cross training are extremely important when dealing with this injury.

4. Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement can be seen in rowers due to acute trauma, repetitive overuse, or a type of mechanical injury. Rowers raise their arms in overhead motions, which tends to constrain the space on the shoulder between the acromion and rotator cuff. This will typically happen to rowers that overreach at the catch or fail to sit in a stable, upright position. These movements can result in impingements in the shoulder that may cause immense pain, inflammation and overall irritation of the tendons. A strength routine that focuses on the rotator cuff and scapula in the shoulder is beneficial.

5. Knee Pain

Knee pain is common in all athletes, even rowers. In this sport, the knees are constantly contracting back and forth during rowing movements. It is not uncommon for rowers to experience patellofemoral pain, which is pain in the knee cap and results in a clicking feeling while rowing. Additionally, the iliotibial band friction syndrome is seen in rowers that leads to intense inflammation on the outside of the knee. This pain can occur due to lack of strength and stability in the abdomen or lower limbs. It is important for rowers to stretch and consult a physician about any injuries.