Osteopathy and Rowing

Written by Megan Fraumano

It is that time of year again where we see an influx of rowers visiting our clinic. Some have trained extremely hard over the summer break, others have enjoyed a more relaxing holiday – either way, for all those on rowing camp this week, it will be tough on the water, and the blisters will be bad.

The common injuries that present with rowers are generally overuse injuries. This include lower back, rib, knee and forearm injuries. Rowing is a repetitive motion, and if the load is increased too quickly (particularly if the rower sat on the couch all holidays), or the technique is poor, then injuries will often arise.

Our main priority here at Eureka Osteo, is to assess and diagnose a complaint in order to decide whether the athlete can safely continue to row, or we need to rest or modify a rower’s training load. Obviously this is quite a big decision, as we all know how difficult it can be for rowers and coaches alike to miss one session, let alone a week of training. Given that the majority of our rowers in Ballarat are teenagers going through various stages of growth, it is also important to rule out any serious bony conditions before we progress.

To the trained eye, looking at a rower’s physique and posture, combined with their technique in the boat, it can be easy to predict which injuries may present. The nature of school rowing also means that students have a long summer break of unsupervised training, before jumping back into the boat for some intense rowing camp sessions. For our junior rowers, getting the boat on and off the water can also present a common mechanism for injury.

As osteopaths, we are always interested in how the whole body works together, not just your site of pain. As a rowing coach, I am interested in what technique faults your coach is often pointing out, and whether this matches with your complaint – are you sore in the mid-back and often told to sit up taller at the catch? Is your outside forearm sore and you know that you are feathering and squaring with this hand? With only a few weeks to go until Head of the Lake, these little niggles should not be ignored. Please contact the clinic to discuss any further rowing issues.