Rowing Machines For The Back
There are always different points of view when it comes to health and fitness right? So what do you believe when it comes to rowing machines?
Do they put pressure on your back and can they cause harm or are they good for your back in terms of strengthening it?
Let’s delve a little deeper.
Research shows that rowers have improved users posture as well as offered a reduction in back pain. Rowers exercise the rhomboids in the shoulders, trapezii in the upper back and the lats in the lower back. However, a weak core (abdominal muscles) can cause rowers to over compensate in the lower spine which can lead to lower back pain and problems.
One rowing session with the wrong technique could be all it takes to cause pain and damage so make sure you are educated and rower ready! Become an educated rower and understand your own body as well as its needs and limits.
Firstly, I would suggest it is about the individual user and what state their own body is in. Do you suffer with lower back pain for example? Are you strong in the core? Do you have Sciatica? (FYI – rowing can actually strengthen muscles around the sciatic nerve helping to reduce pain levels).
Secondly, when it comes to a rower you need to know how to use one. Are you pulling correctly in an uprighted position for example? Or are you slouching and slumping your shoulders and putting pressure on your back?
It’s like anything – if used correctly it can work for you. We are all unique and are all built differently so understanding it from your own bodies perspective is
It comes down to education.
Your own education. You know your own body and you have to listen to it (especially when it speaks directly to you). Ifsomething is painful for example, then this would obviously mean that it is not right for you or you are not using the machine correctly perhaps.
Or maybe it is just not for you at that moment in your life. Looking into other machinery that can be used initially to gain more core strength for example then coming back to the rower when more strength has been acquired. Listen and learn.
Two vital points here.
Gym inductions can be very insightful. Instructors will show you how to use equipment so that you understand the machines. They will even “test drive” them with you and help guide your body when using the equipment. It is a very useful way of understanding, not only the machinery, but also how your body copes with that particular machine.
Personally, I have found rowers very useful for myself as I lacked core and upper body strength. For me, it was about pulling right back with my arms so the t-bar came all the way to my chest (sitting straight not slouched) to get the results I was wanting from the rower.
I concentrated on the areas I wanted to work on and therefore did not put too much pressure on my (slightly weaker at the time) back. Hooray!
Velocity is key here also. The speed and direction needs to be understood by the user. What speed is best for you? In what direction are you pulling back? In a straight line? Up and over?
I have always found it useful to fully understand what is too much for my own body. I can put my body through its paces and know what my limit is (I guess similar to those of you who drink alcohol – you know your limits).
On a rower I think it is key to pace yourself.
Perhaps not going too hard initially and easing your body into the rower itself (almost developing and building trust with the rower if you like). You need to develop a great rapport with any kind of machinery where your body is being tested and pushed. For me, it was a matter of ‘slowly does it’! Win win!
How often? And for how long?
How often will come into the equation here. How many times a week is right (and safe) for you? It is advised three times a week for a beginner, allowing a rest day between each session to give your muscles chance to recover.
If your body is particularly sore after a session then more rest days would be suggested. Again, you know your own body and you must listen to it.
For how long?
Now, this will be different depending on what you are wanting to get out of using the rower. Are you trying to lose weight for example? If so, then setting longer time frame goals is key.
Recommendations come in around 15 minutes per session, but again for weight loss this would perhaps need looking into for longer sessions as roughly rowing 15 minutes a day will mean burning around 150-300 calories (depending on the intensity levels).
Another good low intensity exercise machine that you can use is the cross trainer.
Essentially, using any equipment where your body is being put through its paces is all about the individual. What feels right for you? What are you trying to achieve? Does it feel uncomfortable? Is it helping you?
Is it causing pain? It is an ongoing process and results take time. Give it a whirl and see if the rower is for you! Happy rowing!