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Is A Rowing Machine Good For Back Pain? Let’s Find Out!

A rowing machine is a great way to get in shape and burn calories.

But, can it help with back pain? The answer depends on the type of rower you use.

If your goal is weight loss or muscle building, then yes, using an exercise bike will be more effective than a traditional rowing machine for relieving lower-back pain.

However, if you want to relieve chronic low-back pain, then a throes of rowing machine may not provide enough support for your spine.

If you’re one of these individuals, it may be time for you to consider other type of exercise equipment.

Here is what you need to know about the best options available:

1) Water Exercise Equipment – Swimming Pools & Spas

Swim lanes in swimming pools or spas can help reduce lower-back stress during exercise by providing support during exercises such as leg lifts, lunges, squats, and crunches.

2) Elliptical Machines

Ellipticals are popular because they allow users to work their entire body while sitting down. They also offer better stability than treadmills do.

However, ellipticals aren’t recommended for people who have knee problems.

3) Treadmill Exercisers

Treadmills are good at helping build endurance and strength but don’t give much support when doing situps or pushups.

This makes them less useful for those suffering from lower-back injuries

4) Stair Climbers

Stair climbers are similar to stair steppers except that they’re designed specifically for exercising the upper body.

These machines usually come equipped with handrails so that users won’t fall backwards.

5) Free Weights

Free weights like dumbbells and barbells are excellent tools for strengthening muscle tone throughout the body.

But, free weights require lots of space and are difficult to store away after workouts.

6) Weight Lifting Machines

Weight lifting machines are very helpful for working out specific areas of the body.

Some models even include adjustable resistance levels.

7) Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training involves performing various movements without any additional equipment.

It’s often used for core strengthening exercises which help prevent injury.

8) Yoga

Yoga has been shown to improve flexibility and balance. And, yoga poses can help alleviate lower-back tension.

9) Pilates

Pilates focuses on improving poor posture through controlled movement. It’s especially beneficial for reducing lower-back strain on bones.

10) Cycling

Cycling provides many rich benefits including cardiovascular fitness, improved bone density, and increased energy level.

Best Rowing Stretches to Relieve Rowing Machine Back Pain

Rowing machines are wonderful pieces of workout equipment. But, there are some things you should keep in mind before purchasing one.

The first thing to remember is that ultimate rowing machines only move forward and backward.

This means that you’ll never really experience true rowing technique motions.

Another important factor to take into consideration is how long you plan to use this piece of equipment.

If you intend to use it every day, make sure that the seat height is comfortable.

You might want to invest a little more money if you plan on using your machine daily.

You could get an ergonomic exercises model that will provide greater comfort over time.

Finally, make sure that you choose a rower that offers enough resistance. The amount of weight needed depends upon the type of activity being performed.

For example, if you’re going to perform cardio activities, then you probably shouldn’t purchase a heavy duty unit.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on using your rower as part of a full body exercise routine, then you need something heavier duty.

If you’ve decided that you’d like to buy a new rowing machine, then here are 10 best stretching exercises for relieving back pain:

Standing Overhead Stretch

Stand straight up with your arms overhead. Then slowly bend forward until you feel a stretch across your chest.

Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Repeat 2 times.

Side Bend

Lie down on your left side. Place both hands behind your head. Slowly lift yourself off the ground while bending at the waist.

Keep your knees bent 90 degrees or less. When you reach maximum range of motion, hold for 15 – 20 seconds.

Switch sides and repeat 3 times.

Seated Forward Fold

Sit upright in a chair. Cross your right ankle over your left knee.

Lean forward slightly. Extend your arms above your shoulders.

Gently fold forward from your hip joint. Allow your forehead to rest against your shin.

Hold this pose for 5 minutes.

Leg Lift

Raise your legs so they form a 45 degree angle with your torso.

Your feet should be flat on the floor. Hold this position for 1 minute.

Lying Knee Tuck

Laying faceup on the floor, place your elbows under your shoulder joints.

Raise your upper body by pulling your shoulder blades together.

Lower your chin toward your chest. Hold this pose for 60 seconds.

Spinal Twist

Lie facedown on the floor. Wrap your fingers around the small of your back.

Pull your belly button towards your spine. Now pull your heels away from each other.

Hold this position for 60 seconds.


Lying faceup on the floor with your palms facing upwards, extend your arms outwards.

Inhale deeply through your nose. Exhaling through your mouth, push your lower back onto the mat.

Do not arch your low back. Continue pushing your butt backwards until you can no longer do so comfortably.

Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

Calf Raises

Standing on tiptoes, raise your toes towards the ceiling. As you inhale, bring them closer to your buttocks.

As you exhale, return them to their original positions.

Perform these calf raises for 8 repetitions.

Single Arm Reach Out

Standing tall, step one leg backward into a lunge stance.

With your free arm extended outward, move it directly below your ear.

Keeping your elbow close to your body, rotate your wrist inwardly. Return to starting position.

Alternate which arm is used for reaching.

Perform 6 reps per arm.

Low Lunge Squat

Begin standing with your weight evenly distributed between your two feet.

Step forward with your left foot and drop your rear end down into a squatting posture.

Make sure your front thigh remains parallel to the floor throughout the movement.

Push your heel firmly into the floor. Pause briefly before returning to an erect standing position.

Complete all lunges with your opposite leg.

Perform 12 squats total.

Rowing machines have been designed to provide resistance training for various muscle build-up groups.

The rowing machine works several major muscle including: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, obliques, pecs.

It also provides cardiovascular exercise as well as toning exercise program that will help tone up those areas such as biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, etc.

The rowing machine uses gravity to give you a natural feel of rowing movements like when actually sitting in a boat.

This helps build endurance and strength. You may use different types of handles depending upon what type of workout program you are following.

If you want more increase in flexibility then there are some models available where you don’t need any handlebars.

There are even some rowers without pedals too!

Treatment & Prevention – Lower back pain in rowing

A study published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that people who regularly participated in rowing experienced less lower back pain than non-rowers.

This was true regardless of whether they were using traditional or recumbent ergometers.

Another study conducted at the University of Wisconsin showed that regular basis participation in rowing sessions helped reduce symptoms associated with chronic neck and back problems.

These findings suggest that the benefits of rowing could help for reducing lower back pain caused by poor postural alignment.

However, if you suffer from severe lower back pain, consult your doctor first before beginning any new physical activity regimen.

You should always seek medical advice prior to engaging in any form of strenuous forms of exercise.

In addition, never attempt to self-treat injuries related to low back pain. It can lead to further injury.

  • Always wear proper safety equipment while exercising.
  • If you experience any discomfort during workouts, stop immediately.
  • Do not continue until you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Never push yourself beyond your limits. Always listen to your body and take breaks whenever necessary.
  • Avoid repetitive movements. Try to vary your routine every few weeks.
  • Use good technique when performing each set. Perform slow controlled motions.
  • Keep your strong core engaged throughout the entire motion. Avoid leaning forward or backward excessively.
  • Maintain correct breathing patterns. Inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Try to maintain neutral spine positioning. Do not allow your head to tilt backwards or forwards.
  • Toe touches on the ground is acceptable but avoid placing pressure directly under your toes.
  • Your knees must remain straight throughout the entire range of motion.
  • Don’t forget about your upper extremities. They get just as much work out as your legs do.
  • Make sure you warm up properly before starting your rowing workout. Start off gently enough so that you aren’t overdoing it.
  • Perform dynamic stretches before working out. These include stretching your arms above your head, bending down and touching your toes, reaching behind you, etc.
  • Stick to one side of the room when you’re warming up. Don’t move around a lot because this will increase your chances of getting injured.

When you start your actual workout, make sure you focus only on the tight muscles being worked.


Many people favor rowing training for back pain because it is one of the most complete full-body workouts.

However, if you’re looking for a machine that can deliver lower-back pain relief, try an arc trainer.

The arc trainer can also be used to strengthen core muscles, tone glutes, butt, legs, and abs.

The arc trainer uses a real-life rowing motion, which helps to remove pressure off the joints.


Randy Lucas

Randy here - Fitness enthusiast and avid runner - besides running I also love playing with my two German Shepherds Peter and Bruce - oh and I love cooking. I am the Webmaster over at where I ramble about all things fitness in an effort to make the world a healthier place.