Please explain proper back position during a rowing stroke

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kmurphy_stl
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Please explain proper back position during a rowing stroke

Post by kmurphy_stl » March 29th, 2006, 11:42 pm

Hello all and thanks for any help you can offer.

I'm new to rowing and am having some lower back pain.

I'm trying to understand how the back is positioned during rowing to see what all I'm doing wrong.

Are you supposed to have your back arched (not rounded) for the entire drive? I think my rounding my upper and lower back during the recovery and trying to switch to an arched position for the drive. It looks like the guy in the concept 2 little form animation on the site is rounding his upper back during the recovery but I'm not sure.

Is there a good way to "check" that I'm rounding/not rounding properly?

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Post by MomofJBN » March 30th, 2006, 12:38 am

Your back should never be arched, nor should your hips be tucked under. As I understand it, you want to keep your back predominantly straight. The movement happens at the hips - slight forward lean at the catch, slight backward lean at the finish, but never a rounded back. Keep your ab's strong to support your back.

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Re: Please explain proper back position during a rowing stro

Post by Citroen » March 30th, 2006, 4:50 am

kmurphy_stl wrote: Is there a good way to "check" that I'm rounding/not rounding properly?
There's a good way to avoid it. Drop the damper lever down from 10. Move it somewhere in the range to 3 to 5. (Assuming a clean machine that should be a drag factor (df) of about 115 to 135.)

Lightweights and women tend to go as low as df115, heavyweight men tend to go closer to df135. The PM2 and PM3 can both show your current drag factor. On a PM2 (remove your HR strap if you have one) press [REST] and [OK] together drag appears in the bottom right corner. On a PM3 it's a menu option from the "More Options" menu. Row ten stokes to get the flywheel up to speed and you get a display of current drag factor.

Rounding the shoulders isn't good for you.

The way to check if you're doing it is with mirrors, video, a partner or a coach.

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Post by Sasha » April 3rd, 2006, 8:05 pm

I'm struggling with this too. It seems at the time that I am bending from the hips -- some years of yoga have helped me identify body parts I can't see -- but the next morning the muscles in my lower back, below the waist, are sore and stiff. Or am I making an incorrect association here?
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Post by Alissa » April 3rd, 2006, 8:48 pm

Sasha wrote:I'm struggling with this too. It seems at the time that I am bending from the hips -- some years of yoga have helped me identify body parts I can't see -- but the next morning the muscles in my lower back, below the waist, are sore and stiff. Or am I making an incorrect association here?
Can't really tell from here :lol: , but I'm wondering if you are using your abs & lats to support your back (which you should), so that the soreness you're feeling is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from using those muscles?

Learning to row has been really, really good for my posture--since the force you exert with your legs is transmitted to the handle through a nice tall, stable, erect torso, there's a lot of force being applied to your back.
That's why I focus a lot on a neutral spine position for the pelvis (neither tucked nor extended back), sit on my "sitz" bones near the front edge of the seat, and sit as tall as I can (I "hang" my body from my collarbone--raise my sternum and drop my shoulders so that I get as much space as I can between my shoulders and my ears). When you apply force in the drive, you need to maintain that stable torso posture, and that's going to work both your abs & lats--so that we can maintain a stable torso that will both protect the back and transmit the force. Could that be it?

If you were bending the back, instead of pivoting from the hip, you would be running a risk of injury. I think the key is the starting pelvis position and how you are sitting. If you have your pelvis extended back (so that your lower back is in a bit of an arch (and you're sitting "forward" of your "sitz" bones), your abs really can't be as supportive as they should be (relatively speaking, they're in a stretched position) so you could be putting too much pressure on your lower back--and potentially setting yourself up for injury.

If you have your pelvis tucked under (so that you're sitting "behind" your "sitz" bones and probably not on the edge of the seat), then you've set yourself up so you can't really pivot from the hip...based on your knowledge of yoga, I doubt you're doing this...but again, if this were your posture, you can't really truly support your lower back with your lats, since, again, you're stretching them--and again, setting yourself up for possible injury. If this were the case, I would be worried about whether the soreness & stiffness was a response to injury...

If you have any doubts about whether your posture is appropriate (and you have a neutral spine pelvis position), you should try to get someone to take a look. If you can't find someone knowledgeable where you are, you could record yourself and post here... Or you could get tapes (for instance, Xeno Muller's which work on the stroke) and diagnose yourself with mirrors, etc.

HTH,

Alissa

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Post by Sasha » April 3rd, 2006, 11:06 pm

Thanks much for the extended reply. I have been using a mirror -- that yoga thing again. I know that I can't trust 'feel'. I'm sure I'm not tucking my hips under, but I'll work on that openness, the hanging from the collarbone thing.

I suspect DOMS too, in which case I'm doing it right. Just checking. I certainly don't want to get injured.

Again, accept my appreciation for the thoughtful answer.
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Post by fender128 » April 14th, 2006, 8:21 pm

my coach described proper back position as if someone had a fist in the small of your back. You should sit up straight and while on the recovery you should bend forward from the waist so u can really feel it in your hamstrings. keep this forward body angle all the way up the slide.

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Post by johnnybike » April 15th, 2006, 2:45 am

Right, that is it,. Knew that I was rounding my back, especially on the longer pieces as I get tired. The fist in the back is a good focal point and Alissa talks sense ( as always)

Back to the 20spm stuff and try and lever more, a concept that I have never really got hold off.

The only problem with straightening my back is that it shortens my stroke and ups my spm.
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Post by Sasha » April 15th, 2006, 9:11 am

I can't bend enough to feel it in my hamstrings. It just isn't possible.
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Post by Stretch » April 15th, 2006, 12:39 pm

Blame the years of yoga for that. I'm so inflexible I can feel my hamstrings pinging at about 5 degrees forward lean from the vertical!
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Post by apdermond » April 16th, 2006, 9:55 am

I've heard people complain of back and shoulder pain due to opening up with their back too early on the stroke. It's important to remember your legs are much stronger than your back so you shouldn't let your back start pulling until your legs are completely finished. Not sure if this helps, but it might be something to look out for.

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Post by ivanans » April 20th, 2006, 4:39 pm

I've heard that you should have the same position of back at the recovery as at the start of the stroke and keep it, then fast open it up during the drive, but don't too much lean at the finish

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Post by Ed Howe » April 25th, 2006, 1:39 pm

I agree with the advice here. I started erging this year and had quite a few bouts with lower back pain. I rounded my back trying to get in close for the catch--wrong! I sat wrong with my pelvis tilted back instead of on my "sitz bones." And with a beginner's zeal I pushed my body too hard with much more forceful drives than I should have been using to get better times instead of gradually working up to them.

I think as your back and core get stronger you'll feel less and less pain. I also think it's a good idea to not erg every day when you're starting--give your body some recovery time between workouts. Even if you "know" the right technique it will take your body a while to go along with it.

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Re: Please explain proper back position during a rowing stroke

Post by grahamcawood » May 27th, 2019, 9:54 pm

Greetings. Watch any good rower. The back is curved throughout. Trying to straighten your back - sit tall - can inflict excess force and curving of the lower back, and pain! Visit an article by Dr. Fiona Wilson about this.
Also beware pulling very high,especially on the erg.
I also advise laying back at the catch, so that upper body weight now reduces, rather than adds to, the load on the lower back. Visit Karl Adams for his ideas on this. Also visit my book Rhecon sculling for detail on a slightly different system. Things like 2 breaths per stroke, raised heels, 1:1 ratio, low gate height,feathering in the water, legs and arms finishing together included.
Learn to relax whenever you are not pulling on the oars.
Have fun.

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Re: Please explain proper back position during a rowing stroke

Post by Dreadfish » May 27th, 2019, 10:26 pm

Eric Murray has a heap of vids on youtube. search his name and you will get bulk clips and his form is pretty good :D :D
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