The rowing machine might look like it can aggravate or hurt your back more than other exercises, but that is not the case. If you enjoy rowing but have back pain or are worried about your back, do not worry, I will show you why you should not be.
Is a rowing machine bad for your back?
The rowing machine works many muscles. It works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and abdominals to stabilize. It also works the upper body, specifically your biceps, shoulders, upper back, lower back, and spinal erectors.
The lower back and upper back are both worked, but they are not injured or aggravated while doing this movement. The upper back is only used to pull the bar towards you and to loosen it and let it go away from you.
Nothing else. It is safe for the upper back just as any other muscles are safe from this movement.
The only issue would be if you have bad posture throughout the movement or have bad posture in general and you cannot straighten your back while doing the movement, because of it. If that is the case, then pain can be induced while doing the movement and physical therapy and correction of posture are needed.
I recommend exercises for the rear delts and stretches to open up the chest and stretch the neck, shoulders, and traps. Also, look into if you have an anterior pelvic tilt or an unnatural curve in the body. You could have to get it treated with the help of a doctor or physical therapist.
If these things are not an issue, then you have no need to worry about the upper back getting injured in any way.
Now, for the lower back. The lower back is more sensitive because most people are not strong in the area, because of our daily use of computers and the rise of sedentary lifestyles, we are accustomed to sitting day in and day out.
So, if you row with intensity and without good form, you can cause some aggravation because you do not have strong enough spinal erectors and lower back muscles, but this can be avoided easily by practicing good form and being vigilant about how you row.
Some people row with great intensity and bend too far back, breaking form. Some people bend too forward, trying to get more range of motion and more out of it when they are doing the opposite. You must find a balance of upper body movement back and forth to where you do not go too vigorously and hurt the lower back or aggravate it.
Bottom line is, if you have good form, you are completely fine and can even exercise with the row while having an injury, as the row is a low-impact exercise that does not put a lot of stress on the joints. It can also help the lower back.
Is rowing good for back posture?
Rowing is a good exercise for your posture because it exercises the upper back muscles, the lats, rhomboids, trap, rear delts, and the other minor muscles in the back. Rowing also exercises the lower back and works it to a great extent with the rocking motion you do when pulling and reaching. The motion your upper body does when rowing works the whole back.
This is great for posture because most people’s posture problems are from weak back muscles, especially the rear delts. So, rowing would help strengthen your back muscles and help with posture issues.
Posture can be easy to fix if you put in the time to manually correct it when you realize it is poor. This is important because posture is the result of you being always consciencely aware of it and fixing it when you feel it worsening.
This will naturally strengthen the muscles needed to improve your posture and keep it from worsening. Using resistance to train the back muscles would strengthen your back more effectively and better than just naturally holding good posture.
Rowing is good for posture because it works the back muscles and strengthens muscles used to keep good posture. If you have bad posture and like rowing, try correcting your form and being conscience of your posture as much as possible and it will improve over time.
Is it OK to row every day?
No, it is not, unless you use low intensity when rowing and have proper rest and recovery. If you do this you will not make as much progress or any at all compared to rowing 3-4 times a week with a day of rest in between each session, and with high intensity.
Using high intensity when rowing is what will yield you the best results. To do this you must properly recover after each session.
You can do this by sleeping 7-9 hours, eating enough protein, doing active recovery, (not just sitting on your butt on rest days but not doing intense workouts. Stretching and cardio will do) and staying hydrated. The combination of these will make sure you get stronger and prevent injury.
If you decide to row every day or do not rest and recover properly, you might find that you are more fatigued going through everyday life and not getting stronger or better at rowing. This would not be good for your progress, and you can be stuck for a very long time until you figure out what you are doing wrong.
Making no progress can make you feel unmotivated and want to give up. That is why rest and recovery is so important, it will keep you in the gym, getting stronger and making lots of progress.
Rowing strengthens the muscles needed to have good posture. This will improve your posture if you are conscience of it.
Using good form while rowing will keep you safe from any injuries. Injuries are only prone to people who use incorrect form.
So, keep on rowing, just be aware of form and recover properly after each workout.
You should consult a doctor before starting any exercise regimen, and especially if you have health conditions such as heart problems or trouble, high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, or obesity – or if you are 40 years old or older, make sure to check with your doctor before you begin a regular exercise regimen.