Is a Rowing Machine Bad for Your Back?

When you buy through links on our site we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more

 If you’re considering buying this exercise machine, you are probably aware of the many benefits of rowing. The question is whether it is a good choice if you’re prone to back pain.

We can’t deny the fact that the chances of back problems are significantly higher if you are a rowing machine user. Let’s take a look at why this is the case, and whether there is a way to prevent back pain and continue rowing.

can you get back pain on a rowing machine

Rowing machines belong to the group of low-intensity exercise gear. They work on multiple muscle groups, and they can also help with losing weight. It is interesting to note that the lower body does most of the work. It is crucial to have strong core and legs as the lower body handles 60% of the work when exercising.

Experts recommend rowing for injury recovery, too. It is another of many benefits of rowing, and reasons why this machine can be useful. How come it is not good for your back then?

See Our Top Rowers if you have Back Pain Issues!

How to Avoid Lower Back Pain When Rowing


The first thing to do is to know your limits. Avoid burdening your back muscles with too much stress. Additionally, make sure to do the exercise properly. It is all about keeping the right posture and applying the right technique.

If you’re meeting the fitness machine for the first time, try to assess your capabilities. It is crucial to be honest when it comes to what you can do. Try setting a low damper resistance first, and only increase it if it feels too easy.

Remember, you will work out on this machine for a long time. Avoid pushing yourself to the limit right away, but find optimal resistance.

Now, here is how to row properly:

  1. Find the footpad of the machine and put your feet squarely in the center of it.
  2. Now, grab the handle, and put it in the overhand position. You want a firm grip, but not too tight and uncomfortable.
  3. Position yourself to the back of the exercise machine. Do not bend your knees and hold the legs straight.

During the exercise itself, you don’t want your body to be too tight. Tightening the muscles too much might lead to injury, and that is not something you want to see happening. Try consulting a friend who is an expert rower, or a gym instructor. They can ensure that you’re doing everything right and offer tips on improving posture.

Read My Article on the Right Way to Use Rowing Machines

Why Could A Rowing Machine Cause Back Pain?

how to avoid back pain when rowingWhile exercising, you’re making your lower back muscles work. Rowing puts a strain on this muscle group, and that is something you must consider.

Some people tend to be more susceptible to back issues. The fact that your lower back is under stress during exercise doesn’t help. You may also tighten this muscle group while exercising because you either expect the pain or see it. That can contribute to the back issues you may feel later.

Your age is also important for back pain. It doesn’t come as strange that you develop a higher risk for back issues as you get older. Older adults are specifically prone to these problems.

It seems like it is simple to exercise on this machine. However, once you try it for the first time, it may be surprising how much effort you need. Additionally, you need maximum focus so that you can exercise properly.

If you were wondering why it could be bad for your back, it is because it can cause injuries. Many back injuries are a consequence of not performing the stroke as you should. You may lose your focus or misjudge the power a stroke requires. As a result, you may move your upper body to the back too fast.

Read More About the Teeter Rower – Ideal for Back Pain!

You may even do everything properly, except for judging how long your back can hold on doing the exercise. The goals you set may be too ambitious. That is why you force yourself to row for a long time, and that results in muscle pain. Your back is the first muscle group that will react to the extra stress.

What to Do If You Feel Back Pain from Rowing

If you’re experiencing back pain, it is important to stop exercising immediately. Monitor the pain you feel for several days, and see if there is any improvement. As long as you’re in pain, you shouldn’t exercise on the machine.

Feel free to do crunches, sit-ups, and other exercises that do not burden your back muscles. It is critical to let them heal to avoid any long-term back issues.

You can help your back pain by stretching regularly, too. That means not only before and after working out, but also during the recovery process.

If you’ve wondered whether a rowing machine could be bad for your back, the bad news is that it could be, but you can minimize the risk if you exercise properly and perform the strokes correctly.  I suggest you give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised!

On a side note:  If you do suffer from back pain I highly recommend the Teeter FitSpine – I love this machine, I use this daily right before I go to bed – I invert for 3 – 5 minutes and it has done wonders for my back issues!  Yes that’s a personal recommendation from me!

Teeter FitSpine LX9 Inversion Table

Check Price

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a rowing machine bad for your lower back?

Working out on a rowing machine is low impact and, thus, will not cause any injury to your muscles and joints. It’s a full body exercise, which makes it ideal for overall fitness. In short, a rowing machine is never bad for your lower back. It’s safe even for people who suffer from physical disabilities or are recuperating from illnesses. The important thing to remember is to perform the strokes correctly. Make sure to learn the basics before working out on a rower.

2. How do I protect my back while rowing?

It’s all about rowing with the correct form and technique. To protect your back when doing your rowing workout, you need to do some stretching exercises first to relax your tight muscles and limbs. On the rower, start by sitting up tall with an open chest. Take the correct starting position – legs bent on the knees, shins vertical, upper body slightly leaning forward, and arms extended to hold the chain. Don’t round your back; instead, bend on your hip. Begin the drive with a push from your legs, and as you extend your legs, open your chest and hip angle. Make sure to pivot from your hips as you tighten your abdominals. This technique is called the hip hinge, which loads weight primarily to your glutes and hamstrings, powering the rowing motions while protecting your spine.

3. Can I use a rowing machine with a lower back pain?

It depends on the reason for your lower back pain. Poor posture, lack of activity, over-exertion, or an injury can cause pain in the lower back. Rowing can actually help you ease back pain, but I suggest that you see a doctor first to avoid aggravating your condition. Exercising is often recommended as part of a therapy to strengthen back muscles, and rowing is one of the best ways to do that. If you experience back pain as a result of using a rowing machine, it is best to stop immediately. Take a rest for a few days. Evaluate your rowing technique before resuming with your workout routines. Better yet, refer to a coach or a friend who knows about rowing to make sure that you’re performing the rowing movements correctly.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Blog, Seniors, Training & Coaching
Our Top Pick! – Over All Best Rower
Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower
Best Deal – Don’t Miss Out!
Our Top Pick – Elliptical & Rower in 1!
Popular Posts
Our Favorite Rower!!
Our Top Picks – Best in Assembly
Affiliate Disclosure: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliate sites.

Our Top Picks – Best in Price
Our Top Pick! – Over All Best Rower
Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower
Best Value Water Rower!
Recent Reviews & Articles
Most Popular Under $300!
Best Deal! Don’t Miss Out!
Rowing Machine Buyers Guide
Get Fit At Home – Quick Home Delivery!
Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower
Best Discount – Limited Time!
Rowing Machine Buyers Guide
Our Top Pick! – Over All Best Rower

Teeter Power10 Elliptical Rower