Recovery advice from a rowing back injury

I injured my lower back doing deadlift about a month ago so I stopped exercising and rowing for a week. After a week of recovering I was back on the water. During practice I made the injury worse and strained it. The coach scooped me up in the launch and I haven’t rowed since (neither indoor nor on the water). I’m not going to deadlift anymore but I have to get back at least on the erg and eventually back on the water. What ‘s the best way to go about this? 

What a tough situation for you.  So my suggestions are

  1. get an exercise professional to guide your recovery. Get treatment immediately from them – right now, don’t wait because the closer you get treated after injury the quicker the recovery.  This can be an osteopath or physiotherapist – preferably one with experience in rowing, definitely one that does sports injury recovery NOT a doctor. I’ve personally always been very well served by Osteopaths – they do the soft tissue work that physios do plus joint realignment and their focus on correct limb alignment not just treating the injury is helpful to preventing recurrence. David from Future Focus, an expert in sports therapy, said: “It’s essential to receive an expert medical opinion on your injury to ensure you know exactly what you need to do to achieve the best, quickest and safest recovery.” 
  2. as you get stronger you will need to incorporate more stretching, core strengthening and flexibility into your training. These will build strength to counteract the lower back injury, flexibility will encourage improved range of movement in the boat too.
  3. move to only using a dynamic ergo – (RP3, C2 dyno, Oartech slider). These machines put less strain on your back and knees as you row than a fixed head ergo. The RP was tested to be 6x less than a C2 read a comparison article.

The important thing is to be patient (hard to do) and to practice every day on your strengthening / flexibility. I recommend you continue to visit the rowing club at training practice times so you stay in touch with the crew. Ask the coach if you can sit with him in the launch so you continue to learn even if you’re not rowing. Then when they erg you can be doing strength training and hopefully light ergs and the crew will respect you for continuing to train rather than just dropping out.

The main thing is to recover so you don’t do the same injury again.

Do let us know how you get on.

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