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What Should Be Sore After Rowing?

What should be sore after using a rowing machine

We’ve all been there at one time or another. You wake up in the morning feeling like all your muscles are stiff and sore. You did row 5 days last week, but should you be this sore?

Can Rowing Make You Sore?

Muscle soreness is normal, especially for people who are new to rowing. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles, causing soreness, but this is only temporary. You should start feeling better within 24-72 hours of rest. Also, the pain and discomfort you feel should be in the middle of the muscle and not near the joint.

Where are you feeling the pain? In your back? Your shoulders? Everywhere?

You might have heard that rowing is a full-body exercise and that this means you shouldn’t get the traditional aches and pains that other types of exercise cause. If that’s true, then why do you feel like heck this morning?

Beginners often have these questions, and they worry that they’re doing something wrong.

In today’s article, we’re going to talk about muscle soreness, what is normal, what isn’t, and what you can do about it.

Grab an ice pack and keep reading. You will really want to know about this subject!

Can I Hurt Myself Rowing?

what hurts after rowing?

Actually, you can hurt yourself doing almost anything. A friend of mine once got whiplash from a carnival ride! Rowing is actually very safe, and since it is low-impact, it won’t hurt your joints.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t hurt yourself. Beginners, especially, are prone to low back pain due to improper form when rowing. Being overly exuberant (or using your rowing machine too long, too often) can also cause wrist pain, shoulder pain, and hip pain.

While I believe that back pain is the most common complaint, upper body pain, including the hips, is also common, as is quadricep pain (the back of the thigh).

Watch our full video by Rowing Expert Max Secunda:


What Is the Most Common Injury When Using a Rowing Machine?

Hands down, it would have to be low back pain. You may experience pain in the middle back or the shoulders, but by far the most common complaint from people who use a rowing machine is bad pain in the lower back.

Let me say right here that I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. If you are experiencing intense pain that interferes with your daily life, please see your physician or chiropractor right away.

Should you feel pain after using a rowing machine?

Assuming that your back pain isn’t being caused by another issue, such as arthritis or disc degeneration, then that intense soreness and bad pain in your back is most likely due to improper positioning while rowing.

If you are new to rowing, consider taking a class or two that will show you the proper positioning during each phase of the rowing stroke. Lower back pain is often caused by hunching over too far during the Catch and leaning back too far during the Finish.

Proper rowing form is essential to avoid injury and pain.

Expert Advice from Olympic Rower Rachael Taylor on Rowing Machine Form:


Are Your Arms Supposed to Hurt After Rowing?

It’s important that you learn the difference between “good pain” (muscle soreness due to a build-up of lactic acid) and “there is something wrong” pain.

When you’re doing hard training or new to rowing, it is normal for the muscles to have a build-up of lactic acid. This is what makes your muscles feel sore. It should only be a discomfort, not a shout-out loud “OMG” type of pain.

Muscle soreness should also start to dissipate within 24-72 hours max. I think the majority of people find that if they rest for 48 hours, the pain disappears. In addition to feeling sore, you might feel tired, which is completely normal, especially if rowing is a new form of exercise for you.

You should always give your body at least one full day of recovery time each week so that it can build new muscle and repair damaged tissue.

When you have muscle pain or soreness, you will usually find that it is sore in the middle of the affected area, such as the middle of your forearm or the biceps. Pain that is felt near the joint, such as the elbow, the top of the shoulder, or wrist, might mean that you have another problem, and you should stop rowing and see your medical professional or your chiropractor right away.

Should My Glutes be Sore After Rowing?

Yes, it can be totally normal to have a sore behind after a rowing session. This type of discomfort can be due to several reasons.

  1. The fact is that your butt puts up with a lot more pressure when rowing than it does while you sit on your sofa, for example. When you work out on a rowing machine, your upper body pivots back and forth with all of your weight sitting on your behind. New rowers sometimes find that adding a flat pillow can help them adjust until they become more used to rowing.
  2. The seat design and padding, or lack of it, can also cause your butt to feel sore. Some seats are better than others. If you’ve had your rowing machine for a while, you might want to inspect the seat and see if it needs to be replaced or repadded.
  3. Improper rowing form can lead to something called “rower’s bum”. This is common with beginners who tend to put more weight on one cheek or the other without even realizing it. If your behind is sore only on one side, you probably have rower’s bum.
  4. Weak core muscles is another source of a sore bum. When the core muscles are weak, you may be overcompensating by allowing your glute muscles to take up the slack.
  5. Last, a slippery surface, whether it’s the seat or the shorts, can cause blisters or “hot spots” on your fanny. Be sure to wear something that doesn’t slide back and forth on the seat surface.

Of course, you might have a sore behind simply from not being used to rowing. If you haven’t exercised in quite a while and the only exercise your butt has gotten is sitting watching NetFlix, then you probably are just sore, and it will resolve itself over time.

How to Treat Sore Muscles

man getting treatment and preventing pain from rowing

Sore muscles hurt and whether you got yours because you are new to rowing or you did a hard training session, there are a few things you can do to help relieve the soreness and make your muscles heal a bit faster.

  • Gentle stretching. This will especially help your lower back and legs.
  • Ice/heat. Some people feel better with ice, while others prefer heat. Use whichever one makes you feel best.
  • This is the perfect time to get a massage!
  • You can take some ibuprofen or naproxen sodium if the pain is keeping you awake.
  • Rest. It’s the ultimate natural healer.

Don’t do heavy exercise on a rowing machine, or any heavy exercise to be honest, until your muscles are no longer sore. You may delay the healing and it’s easy to hurt yourself if you don’t give your body time to repair itself.

Learn about the Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Bottom Line

Feeling sore muscles after a few good workouts is completely normal, and almost everyone will experience this at one time or another.

However, if you’re feeling real pain, so much pain that you can’t do your normal, daily activities, you may want to see a medical professional.

Even beginners who start rowing slowly may still feel soreness if they work out muscles they haven’t used in a long time.

Give your body some rest, then get right back on the rowing machine. You will find that your body becomes accustomed to the workouts quickly, and you will feel like a champ soon.

Stay healthy and happy rowing!