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My tailbone is rubbed raw on rowing seats

I regularly find that my tailbone is rubbed raw at the end of a long outing – could … read more

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I regularly find that my tailbone is rubbed raw at the end of a long outing – could this be due to not sitting far enough back on the seat?  I have tried seat pads but they do not seem to help, in fact if anything they exacerbate the problem.  Thank you.

This is a problem that I also experience particularly when rowing with Janousek Stampfli seats!  I put this down to the design of their seat shape because I don’t get it with Filippi seats but I do get it on Concept2 seats.

rowing machine technique at finish

Causes of seat chafing in rowing

I think it’s due to

  1. Sitting too far back on the seat which encourages (2) below
  2. Leaning back and collapsing backwards onto my tailbone at the finish of the stroke

Seat pads won’t help with number 2.

Solutions to tailbone chafing in rowing

May I suggest you get someone to video you when you are tired because that is when your technique is most likely to become erratic?  And send us the photos because we may be able to help identify the cause for you.

My “cure” is to put micropore tape onto my tailbone before the outing over the areas where it rubs raw – you need a friend to do this for you as it’s pretty funny and impossible to position correctly yourself.

And speak to your coach and get them to look at your posture at the finish – are you rotating your pelvis downwards or not?

Read these expert articles

Best of luck with this challenge.

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

8 thoughts on “My tailbone is rubbed raw on rowing seats

  1. Greetings. Are you using the seat pad with the recess at the back? If so, and you still rub the tailbone, cut away more of the pad until there is no tailbone contact.. Ideally, I suppose, we should have 2 pads with a gap in the middle. Hold them in place with 2 side tape.
    It seems odd that many seat pads have a bulge on the front in the middle, creating extra pressure on areas that surely won’t appreciate it.
    I just use a pad of 10mm stiff foam, cut away at the back.
    Hope this helps

  2. I wonder if this is a seat issue with me, I suffer from chafing sporadically, and sometimes get so raw I have to stop erging for several days to let it heal. Some times it seems o happen in the boat too. I think it may be the seam on my rowing shorts…I have tried to get rowing shorts with no centre seam but they don’t seem to exist, I thought the JL pair I bought would do the trick but I still get bad chafing. I would like someone to produce rowing shorts without a central seam but are shaped for rowing not cycling.

    1. Penny – we will try to find you a clothing manufacturer who doesn’t have a shorts seam down your chafe area. In the meantime, have you tried using a seat pad? Or taping your chafe area (mine is around the tailbone coccyx) before starting to erg? I think my chafing is caused by leaning back too far at the finish.

  3. I also have this issue with rowing machines sometimes. I’ve resorted to using a towel folder over a few times on top of the seat, that usually does the trick for me.

  4. Have rowed a couple of marathons. Very difficult to avoid chafing. Compression shorts made it worse (compressed my cheeks together for better chafing). But I used a lot of Vasoline on the later one and did OK (just make sure you don’t mind a grease stain on your clothing). Now I’m switching to an athletic anti-chafing lube like BodyGlide, Chamois cream, or ButtCream. Supposedly no stain. For short pieces, you can try to adjust how you sit. But let’s face it, after 40k meters, form suffers.

  5. I am getting this now with sweep rowing (2-, 8+), and WOW does it hurt for days afterward. I didn’t get this last season, nor do I get it sculling. I don’t know what kind of bad habit I’ve picked up, but this has got to go. Two questions… what is said micropore taping technique, and might this be an aftereffect of tight hamstrings / pelvic rotation? My hamstrings are stupid tight as of late… wondering if that tightness is resulting in a rounded lower back (which would theoretically result in more action on the tailbone).

    1. The micropore is a type of tape you can buy in a pharmacy. The taping “technique” is to put a strip around 5 cm long across your tailbone. It must have full contact with your skin and goes from one butt cheek, across the tailbone, onto the other butt cheek. This is IMPOSSIBLE to do to yourself – so you need a good friend to assist!

      I think it’s unlikely to be tight hamstrings but the best way to find out is to get yourself videoed while rowing and take a slow motion look at yourself at the finish of the stroke.

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