Indoor Rowing to prevent back pain


Research on back pain shows that approximately 80% of people will suffer from back pain at some stage of their life. Some cases can be quite severe and frightening but the reality is that people tend to recover relatively quickly. For many people, back pain is a recurrent problem and if you have experienced it once you are likely to experience it again.

For most people it is a normal part of life that can be compared with other feelings such as tiredness, feeling sad, or being hungry. Evidence shows that regular and exercise and strengthening can help prevent the onset of back pain. For many people, even 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can be sufficient to keep their back pain at bay.


I have had back pain for approximately 10 years. Initially it was something that I dreaded and my initial thoughts were always to rest and avoid any movement that may accentuate it. However, through education and research I now have a much greater understanding of my pain and although I still experience it occasionally, it rarely stops me doing the things that I want to do. I now manage my back pain by following this simple programme:

  • Concept2 rowing machine– 40 minutes rowing x 3 times a week
  • 15 minutes gentle stretching a couple times a week
  • Avoid sitting for 8 hours a day


Core Strength

Rowing is particularly good for strengthening the core muscle group. The core muscles also play a vital role in supporting the back. Strong core muscles decrease the pressure on the spine and can help to alleviate back pain. A strong core helps to ensure correct movement of the back muscles (e.g back muscles do not over compensate).  As your abdominals gain strength, muscles which may have been previously inflamed can relax.

There are four parts to a rowing movement. These are the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery. Each movement works different muscles in the back and legs. See our previous article which outlines which muscles get worked at each particular stage of the rowing movement.


In my experience there are no quick fixes for back pain. Pills, supplements, painkillers, and and massage may provide some quick relief but will not help your back pain in the long run. The best evidence or treating back pain is to keep your back muscles strong through exercise and to maintain a healthy weight.

A simple rowing programme helps to strengthen the back muscles and keeps them moving which prevents them from stiffening up. Rowing can be done at home or in the gym and is perfect for those of us that prefer routine.