Discovery: The Joys of Rowing

Question: A friend took me out on his little rowing boat and once safely out of the line of vision of the pubbers at the rose and crown; I had a 15 minute go. it was hard work and I was v. conscious of not overdoing it, so stopped before any pain or discomfort occurred.  Waited with anticipation that evening to see if I’d caused a flare up – nothing! Felt loose and free.  Next day at work, cont’d to feel as above, and could open my arms out all the way without the habitual tightness around my armpit.

Haven’t had the opportunity since, but am wondering whether the rowing machine at the gym would serve the same purpose.  Has anyone had a similar experience?

Answer: I think any exercise is good as long as you don’t over-do it and there’s no health/medical reasons to contra-indicate it. I have read that a lot of our back and shoulder problems actually come from tight pectoral and chest areas as well as the back and shoulders and there are several exercises you can do here – such as bracing your arms across a door post and leaning into the open door – kind of like a vertical push up. It’s certainly worth trying the rowing machines at the gym (or buy a little one for home – I’m going to do that soon):

I never had any problems with them and, like you, was looking for exercises that got my upper body working. The only think I might say is that rowing machines, at least those I’ve used, tend to be a very back and forwards movement rather than giving you the more expansive movement that you might have got in your little boat, so they might not be exercising the same muscles – but there are probably different types and you can play around with different techniques and settings until you can find out what suits you best, try to mimic the real thing, etc.

Or, perhaps better, having found that there seems to be an exercise that helps, you should approach a trained fitness instructor (e.g. at the gym) and ask them to recommend some gentle toning and moving exercises for the areas that you want to work on – maybe using weights machines (which I found much more enjoyable and less boring than just rowing.)

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