A comparison of rowing technique at different stroke rates: a description of sequencing, force production and kinematics

Int J Sports Med. 2004 Aug;25(6):465-70. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-820936.


Low back pain is the commonest musculoskeletal complaint in rowers. Research into the relationship between rowing technique, the forces generated during the rowing stroke and the kinematics of spinal motion are increasing, but to date none have investigated the impact of different rowing intensities on this relationship. A technique has been developed using an electromagnetic motion system and strain gauge instrumented load cell to measure spinal and pelvic motion and force generated at the handle during rowing on an exercise rowing ergometer. Using this technique ten collegiate male rowers (mean age 22.1+/-2.8 years) from local rowing clubs were investigated. The test protocol consisted of rowing on an ergometer at three different stroke ratings; 17-20 strokes per minute; 24-28 strokes per minute; and 28-36 strokes per minute. Each rating was held for four minutes, with a five-minute rest between each rating. Marked changes in the force output curve and lumbopelvic kinematics were observed at the different rowing intensities. Although there was no change in the magnitude of peak torque generated during the different rating, there was a marked shift in when this occurred during the stroke. In terms of kinematic changes, these centred around changes in pelvic rotation at the catch and finish stages of the stroke with significantly less anterior rotation occurring at the catch position at higher rowing intensities. To conclude, this study suggests that rowing kinematics and force profiles do change at higher rowing intensities. These changes may be an important factor with respect to injury mechanisms, however, further work is required at an elite level.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Femur / physiology
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Sports*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / physiology