Row the Right Way: Tips from a Chiropractor on Using a Rowing Machine

June 21, 2022

Today I am going to walk you through time-tested and proven strategies to help you not only get the most out of your rowing workout, but also enjoy it more and recover faster.

These drills have helped hundreds of athletes move better so they can conserve energy, reduce stress and strain and burn the maximum amount of calories per stroke.

Are you interested?

Well, without further ado, let’s get into it.


Why Rowing Is Great

rowingIf you are looking for a low-impact workout and are turned off by all your friends bragging about how amazing their Peloton is, then rowing might be right for you.

Contrary to the elliptical and spinning, rowing challenges the upper body as much as your legs. It truly is a full-body workout.

In terms of calories burned compared to running, rowing doesn’t burn as much as running but it’s not far off.

According to ACE Fitness calorie calculator, a 150lb person rowing moderately for 30 minutes will burn 238 calories compartment to 391 calories for the same 150lb person running for 30 minutes at an 8.5 minute/ mile pace.

Some Orangetheory Fitness rowing workshops that I have had the privilege of hosting over the past 5 years have always been a blast.

While the movement is seemingly complex, it only takes a few minutes to go from “I just want rowing to suck less” to “I’m having fun now!”


If you are interested in attending a live rowing workshop with me, you can find me hosting a rowing workshop at one of these Orangetheory Fitness studios around the greater Seattle area in the near future:

Capital Hill: 519 Broadway E #8, Seattle, WA 98102

Wallingford: 1325 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103

U-District: 7317 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Ballard: 2032 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107

Visit to learn more.


Crawl Before You Walk

Done the right way, rowing is a beautiful movement to watch because it appears so effortless with the body moving in such an elegant sequential manner.

Done the wrong way (the most common way), it looks like the athlete is having a tantrum in motion.

This is simply because the athlete didn’t bother to master the principal movement – the hip hinge.

From 18 months to 118 years old, we are going to be required to pick things up and put them back down.

Done correctly, it’s the hip hinge that allows us to pick up anything from a loaded barbell, to a single sock, without throwing out our lower back or putting excessive stress on our knees.

Like the heart pumping blood through our body, the hip hinge is a mandatory motion of life.

We need to do it and we need to do it well. In the case of your rowing form, the hip hinge will help ensure you are driving 60% from your legs, 20% from your core, and 20% from your arms, and therefore, burning the maximum amount of calories while keeping your back, knees, and arms happy.


Here is a great Hip Hinge  video.



Watch it 10 times and practice 1,000 if you need to. It will pay off!


Start Where You Finish

Many athletes set themselves up for failure because they initially drive back using their lower back.

This starts a habit that is very hard to break once it gets going.

Here is a great video that demonstrates how to set yourself up for success from the first drive on.


 Correct Rowing Technique


Avoiding Shin Pain

In addition to back pain, one of the most common ailments athletes reports experiencing while rowing is shin pain.

Generally speaking, this is because the athlete is pulling back up on the strap with the top of their foot during the recovery phase of the stroke and therefore, overworking their shins.

A simple drill to try when you are warming up is to keep your feet unstrapped on the footplates.

This will feel awkward at first but will help prevent you from using your shins to pull yourself back, and instead, pull from your hamstrings.

Just row like this for 1 minutes during your warm-up. It’ll make a big difference!


Pain Due To Rowing? Tangelo Can Help

If you are experiencing pain when you row that doesn’t seem to go away, we highly recommend making an appointment with your Tangelo Team.

Utilizing chiropractic, soft tissue therapy and progressive functional rehabilitation techniques, Tangelo can help get back to feeling your best and rowing like a pro fast!

Don’t live another day with pain, give us a call today!