I get sculling blisters on my left hand, why?


Hello, I am a relatively novice sculler (18 months) and I get blisters only on the left hand. What does that mean? Does it tell something I should stop from doing ? Thanks

Your blisters are a sign of your grip on the oar handle.  If you get blisters only on one hand, you’re holding more tightly than in the other hand.

You have two choices

  1.  wait till the blisters have become callouses and live with it
  2. learn to adjust the grip tightness so you match the other hand

My preference is for 2 but you may find this challenging – one way to relax your hand grip is to wiggle the fingers while you are on the recovery of the stroke… the oars are out of the water, and by “playing the piano” and moving your fingers, you release the grip slightly and start to teach the hands what to do differently.

Also check the placement of the handle in your palm – is it symmetrical between left and right hands?  Are your fingers and knuckles identically positioned when the oar is square and feathered?  Is your grip shifting during the stroke or not?  Rowing blisters are caused by friction and so additional movements will cause more friction and blisters.

Watch this video by my old buddy Charles Barksdale

And check your handle grips against these two photos taken from the video.  Can you see on the feather her fingers from the knuckle to first joint are extended at a 45 degree angle from the top of her hand and on the square photo the same part of her hands are almost vertical from the knuckle?

The Grip in Rowing is part of our 6 part series on the Rowing Stroke

Sculling grip on the recovery (feather) Sculling grip on the recovery

Sculling grip in the power phase Sculling grip in the power phase

The athlete holding the handle shifts her grip between square and feather – this is not ideal [0:37 seconds through to 0:44 seconds].

Let us know how you get on!

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Graham Cawood

    To reduce your grip on the blade use the 2 flats on the blade, at the button. Concentrate on lightening the grip except at the catch and release. Square AT the catch, not before.
    The hand grip on the blade may be too smooth, or feel smooth when damp with sweat. Hence your tight grip.
    I make towelling ( from an old towel) covers for the blade grips. These are tubular, closed at one end, which are easily pulled onto the grips. I wash them each day, and dampen them before pulling them on. These covers provide a nice rough surface. It is not necessary to tie them on.
    You may try increasing the diameter of your blade grips.
    Hope this helps

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