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Rowing Machine Tailbone Pain – Ouch!

rowing machine tailbone pain

Are you dealing with a big pain in the butt? No, not your kids, not even your in-laws, I mean a true pain in your behind that makes rowing hurt!

Are you feeling pain in your tailbone area? Do you have blisters on your behind?

Feeling pain when rowing is so discouraging! You are ready to have fun and get in shape, but you can’t enjoy anything because it makes your butt hurt!

I’ve got the answers you need to this pressing problem. If your tailbone feels uncomfortable, if you have blisters ( read more on rowers hands & how to soothe them ), or if you just feel a general butt pain when rowing, then this article is for you.

Keep reading, because I’m going to tell you about some secret tricks to deal with rowing machine butt pain.

Why Do I Have a Sore Bum from My Rowing Machine?

There are actually several reasons why you might be feeling rowing machine butt pain.

First, rowing machines are manufactured with a “one size fits all” seat cushion. Let’s face it, we don’t all have the same size tush!

This can cause you to experience butt pain, especially if the seat is molded to fit a certain butt size.

man with tailbone pain

Since rowing is done while seated, the seat and your position on it are very important for your comfort.

As we sit on the rower, a person’s butt bears most of the weight and some of the movement of the rowing stroke.

The Drive causes us to use our butt muscles to push ourselves backward. That’s a lot of pressure on the tailbone and the butt bones (your pelvis). With the beating our behind takes from sitting and moving the way we do when we row, it’s a wonder why many people don’t experience this type of “rower’s butt”.

I suppose if you have a lot of cushioning on your butt, you may not feel it quite as much, but I think that almost everyone who rows for long durations will find that rower’s bum becomes a problem.

Our expert trainer Laura Tanley explains how to use the correct form while rowing

How Do I Prevent Rowing Machine Butt Pain?

Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid rower’s bum. The thing is, since everyone’s butt is different, you may need to try several different methods before you find a solution that works for your tush.

Try Stretching. Stretching before you row is one of the best ways to avoid all types of injuries. Not only does stretching help to warm up the muscles, but warm muscles can help you with proper positioning when rowing.

Check Your Position. I believe many people suffer from butt pain due to a lack of proper positioning on the rowing machine. First, be sure that your feet are strapped in tightly. Put the strap on the widest part of your foot (usually just behind the toes). Adjust the footpad if necessary. Feet that are positioned too low will cause your thighs to rest on the seat and cut off circulation to your tailbone area.

Use the Proper Rowing Form. You should also check that you are using the proper form when rowing. You can see a terrific video about form here:

Watch Olympic Rower Rachael Taylor’s Guide to Correct Rowing Form:


Remember not to lean too far back on the Finish as this puts excessive pressure on the tailbone and your sitting bones (butt bones). Keep your torso straight and resist the urge to slouch.

One easy trick to help you with proper form is to take your feet out of the straps. This forces you to row more slowly, yes, but it also forces you to do the rowing strokes correctly. Try rowing without the foot straps for a few days and see if this helps your butt pain. If it does, then you know your problem is still about form.

There are a few other tricks that many professional rowers use to help avoid butt pain. Too much cushion on the fanny is usually not a problem faced by pros, so what do Olympic athletes and other rowing professionals do to stop rowing machine butt pain? Keep reading.

What Else Can I Do to Avoid Rowing Machine Butt Pain?

If the tricks above don’t work, you can try a few others.

  • If you have blisters or sore spots on your butt cheeks, try using a pair of rowing shorts or bike shorts. These are padded and they help cushion your butt.
  • If you’re a beginner, give yourself some time. You might actually have sore butt muscles, rather than true rowers bum. Try cutting back on your overall time by 5 or 10 minutes and see if this helps.
  • Some people use double layers of clothing (such as two pairs of shorts) or they add a folded towel to the seat pad to help add some cushioning.
  • You can buy a rowing machine seat pad to help make rowing more comfortable. Seat pads, use elastic straps to hold the cushion onto the original seat.
  • You can also see if your rowing machine manufacturer has a more padded or upgraded seat cushion. Some do and some don’t, but if they don’t, you can always buy one of the products listed above.
  • Try turning around the rowing machine seat. While most rowing machine manufacturers try to make ergonomically designed seats, some people find that simply turning the seat around the opposite way helps them avoid rowing machine butt pain. If the cut-out on the seat is in front, place it in the back.
  • Blisters on your butt mean that you are sliding on the seat. Try wearing some clothing that doesn’t slide as easily or try some bike or rowing shorts.
  • Be sure that the seat isn’t wobbly. Tighten the hardware where the seat is attached if necessary. If it is still wobbly or feels loose, it might be time to replace the seat.
  • If you don’t want to pay for a seat pad or rowing shorts only to find out that they don’t help, you can try rowing with several layers of bubble wrap inside your shorts. This is one way to find out if a little extra cushion is going to help.

man in pink shorts rowing

Many people buy rowing machines to lose weight. There are two thoughts about rowing machine butt pain and being overweight.

Some experts think that having a lot of cushion on the butt will make a huge difference and prevent rowing machine butt pain.

Others believe that being overweight puts extra pressure on the tailbone area. I’m not sure how too much padding can put more pressure here since the solution is often more padding, but that’s the way some people feel about it.

If you’re overweight and you are still experiencing rower’s bum, check that you are doing the rowing stroke correctly.

If you aren’t overweight or aren’t excessively overweight, try a seat cushion or rowing shorts.

TRENDING TOPIC:  Will Rowing Tone My Bum?

Do All Rowing Machines Cause Butt Pain?

No, they don’t.

In fact, it’s not always the machine. Sometimes it’s a person’s position on the rowing machine. Sometimes it’s simply from longer duration rows. Other times, a person simply doesn’t have enough padding and needs a rowing seat pad or cushion.

Workout woman exercising using a rowing machine

While some budget-priced rowing machines can cause pain in the tail bone area or the butt, this is due to a very hard seat in most cases. Again, this is nothing that rowing seat pads can’t fix.

In other words, chances are that it’s not the rowing machine itself but the user.

If you can fix your rowing technique or find a way to alleviate pressure on the tailbone area, usually through a seat cushion or seat pad of some kind, then you should be OK.  Side Note:  Be sure to read my other article if you want to learn how to prevent hand blisters from rowing.

What Should Be Sore After Rowing?

This will depend on your current fitness level and how hard or for how long you rowed.

Generally speaking, beginners will feel sore in their upper back, shoulders, arms, and maybe the core muscles.

Weak abdominal muscles will definitely be feeling sore the next day.

Remember to do a cool-down routine and stretching to help avoid soreness. You might also try some foam rolling to keep your muscles and connective tissue, such as tendons, long and flexible.

I always recommend practicing yoga at least twice a week to keep everything limber.

Discomfort is one thing, pain is another.

Discomfort is sore muscles that go away after 48 hours or so. This is normal, especially for beginners. Pain, however, is not normal. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.

Soreness should disappear within 48-72 hours max. Pain, especially sharp, stabbing, or intense pain that makes you feel as though you cannot continue, should be checked out by your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

Don’t “work through the pain.” You can work through the discomfort, but never be willing to continue working out through intense pain.

TRENDING TOPIC:  What Should Be Sore From Rowing?

The Bottom Line

location of rowing pain when rowing

I’m hoping that at least one suggestion above will help you in finding relief from rowing machine butt pain.

It’s an embarrassing issue to talk about for some people, but it shouldn’t be. This happens to many rowers, especially beginners. Remember that if you are new to rowing, you need to give your behind a little time to get used to sitting and working on the erg.

Hopefully, a little seat cushion under your tush fixes all your problems!

If you have tried everything and are still experiencing rowers bum, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. Some people have very little fat in their bottoms and larger than normal sitting bones. A physical therapist should be able to help you find a position or tool, like a high-quality memory foam seat pad, that will stop your tushy pain.

Here’s wishing you fun and no bum pain all the days of your life!

Stay healthy, my friends, and happy rowing!

3 thoughts on “Rowing Machine Tailbone Pain – Ouch!”

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