The Most Common Rowing Injuries & Getting the Right Diagnosis
How to Prevent Knee Injuries in Rowing
Rowing on exercise machines and on the water is rapidly becoming more popular, both as a recreational sport and a competitive one. Whether you row for recreation purposes on the weekends, use rowing machines at the gym, or compete in regattas, rowing offers a full-body workout that requires endurance, strength, and technique. However, like many other sports, rowing can cause knee injuries that can become chronic when not treated appropriately. Fortunately, knowing how to prevent knee injuries in rowing can help you enjoy your workouts without worrying about knee pain.
Enroll in a rowing program with an experienced rowing coach.
- Many cities and towns with a marina, lake, or river have a rowing club where you can take classes or private lessons.
- If you don't live by the water or don't feel comfortable on the water, you can use a rowing machine at your local gym or buy one for use at home. Make sure to take some lessons from a personal trainer so you understand the basics of the exercise.
Warm up thoroughly before every training session, as this is key in preventing knee injuries in rowing.A good warm up consists of approximately 10 minutes of aerobic exercise such as light rowing or running.
Stretch properly after warming up and before entering the main phase of your training session.Long, sustained stretches of all the major muscle groups such as legs, arms, back, chest and abs are recommended. A healthy stretch is smooth, without bouncing, and lasts between 20 and 30 seconds.
Pay attention to your rowing technique during your training session.Listen to your coach's instructions and those of other experienced rowers.
- Coming up too fast on the recovery of a stroke can result in too much force on the knee joint. Pay attention to a smooth yet strong transition from the recovery to the next stroke.
- Plant your feet correctly. Don't just use the ball of the foot or your heel; instead, push off using the entire foot. It may take some time before your calves are stretched enough but with time and practice you'll most likely be able master it.
- Try to perfect your technique. By rowing with better technique, you'll need fewer strokes and have less chance of injuries.
Avoid over straining while you row.Straining your muscles, tendons and joints is likely to lead to injuries. Bring your intensity down a notch if you feel discomfort. If you feel any pain, stop immediately to prevent knee injuries.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your training session.Muscles that are properly hydrated function better and are less likely to cramp up and create friction in the joints or tendons.
Cool down sufficiently.After the main part of your training, spend between 5 and 10 minutes rowing at a decreased intensity to bring your heart rate down to normal.
Stretch after your rowing session.Spend about 5 minutes stretching your major muscle groups and pay attention to any muscles that feel especially tight.
Build your physical fitness with regular exercise, which can consist of rowing, running, cycling and/or weightlifting.Strength and endurance combat fatigue, while fatigue facilitates mistakes.
- Dress appropriately when rowing outside, as extreme cold can lead to muscle cramps and injuries.
- Don't overtrain. Though regular exercise will build your strength, endurance, and rowing skills, training too much or too hard will weaken your body.
- Always consult with a physician if you have a pre-existing knee condition and want to start rowing. Depending on the condition, your physician may advise certain strength building exercises to complement the rowing, or even advise you not to take up rowing at all.
- If you do suffer a knee injury despite all your precautions, stop training immediately. Place an ice pack on your knee and elevate your leg to reduce swelling. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and rest until you're fully recovered.
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