Low Back Pain in Rowers – Part 1 on the Rowing Sports Medicine and Science Conference

The 2018 Rowing Sports Medicine and Science Conference was held in Berlin in November.  I had the wonderful opportunity to represent the FISA Para Rowing Commission at this Conference. It was a very informative conference where each session was an engaging experience.  

This first post will focus on Low Back Pain in the rowers, the second on Rib Stress Injuries and Fractures in Rowers, and the last post on Injuries in Paralympic Sport.   I will also share some additional resources I found online.

If you want to view the main sessions you can follow this link to the agenda and youtube videos.  

Low back pain (LBP) in rowers was a hot topic as 68.3% of rowers experience LBP before the age of 16 and it is crucial  to prevent the first incidence.  This is a quick summary of the important aspects I wrote down:    

Prevention strategies:

  • Ergometer sessions should be reasonable in length (<30 min)
  • The ergometer should not be used as a warm up especially before weight training as it may lead to low back pain or injury.  This is due to an increase of flexion and loading on the lumbar spine leading to ‘spinal creep’ and a decrease in proprioception.


  • A full squat is a useful test in rowers to evaluate hip, knee, and ankle ROM and to observe pelvis control during the movement.  Full hip range is important to prevent LBP.


  • Train core stability with dynamic exercises and not just isometric holds like static planks
  • Improve ROM of lower limbs and hip ROM with stretches and exercises
  • Use squatting as a rehab tool with different progressions
  • Eccentric to concentric trunk control with hip flexion
  • Utilize trunk rotation and lumbo-pelvic control exercises

Online resources:

Read the next post – Part 2 –  Rib Stress Fractures in Rowers