Rowers: An 8-Week Injury Comeback Plan
When returning from an injury, it is important to ease yourself back into your sport or activity. In rowing, as in many sports, if you try to come back too quickly, you risk re-injury or sustaining a new injury.
Two common rowing injuries are bulging or herniated discs in the low back, and stress fractures in the rib area from overuse. Strained muscles are also very common, and though they sound less severe than a herniated disc or stress fracture, still require proper healing time.
The following 8-week training plan is a detailed workout regime for any rower returning from an injury. It slowly reintroduces the rowing stroke, 10 minutes at a time, 1 day at a time. It also includes suggested cross-training, along with specific days to work in your rehabilitation exercises (yoga, physical therapy, stretching).
- If you have a low body injury (broken leg, sprained ankle, strained muscle), the arm bike, swimming using only your arms, and upper body weight lifting are a few cross-training options.
- If you have a low back injury, swimming or using an elliptical are two low-impact exercises that you may be able to do without pain or discomfort.
- If you have an upper body injury (muscle strain, tendonitis, stress fracture), sitting upright on a stationary bike, walking on an incline treadmill, using an elliptical, or swimming holding a kick board are good ways to keep up your fitness while injured.
If you have not been cross training, don't go crazy with it at first. It is not a good idea to immediately jump in and start biking for 70 minutes a day if you have not been biking at all, for example. Easing into cross-training is just as important as easing back into rowing after an injury. You do not want to end up with an overuse injury from the bike and have to sit out from rowing even longer!
While you are trying to heal, it is imperative to stay out of pain. If at any point you start to experience pain from your injury, stop. If this is the case, take a few days off from training and then start where you left off. However, if you experience pain again, take an additional 2-3 days off and start from the beginning of the plan. If you are still experiencing pain when returning to the erg or boat, you need more time to heal and recover. You should consult a doctor or physical therapist and take even more to heal before you start back up with the training plan.
Good luck, get healthy, and stay heathy. Happy training!
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