Is Rowing the Best Crosstraining for Runners?
Why Rowing Prevents Running Injuries
My Christmas present this year was a Concept 2 rower. I can honestly say that I’m in love with it, however, if I hadn’t gotten the Concept 2 rower then I would have gone with this Nordic Track Rower. My main motivation to get it was for my Street Parking workouts so I didn’t have to run upstairs and then outside to do the runs.
But now? Now, I’m obsessed even more with it for other reasons. Rowing is just so good and has so many benefits for runners that I think it is a must for anyone that runs to do!
If you’re a runner, then you know that injury prevention is key, plus it is what I harp on over and over again on this site! And, if you’re looking for an effective cross-training activity to supplement your running routine, then rowing is a great option. Rowing provides a host of benefits for runners, including improved cardio fitness, reduced risk of injury, and better overall performance. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of rowing for runners and how it can prevent running-related injuries!
Rowing is a great cross-training activity for runners.
Cross-training is an important part of any runner’s routine, and rowing is a great option for runners looking to add some variety to their workouts. Cross-training is so important for runners. Not only does it help reduce the risk of injury in runners. But cross-training also helps improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles in a different way, and gives you a mental break from one form of training.
There are many forms of cross-training available to runners. I believe that a well-rounded, injury-resistant runner does a variety of activities to help make them a more complete athlete. However, if I were to pick one thing, other than strength training :), it would be rowing. The elliptical and bike are great, but they just don’t hold a candle to the rower.
What is Rowing?
Rowing is a total-body workout that uses all of the major muscle groups. It is a great cross-training activity for runners because it targets many of the same muscles used in running but in a different way.
I found a great resource for rowing too! A fellow Doctor of Physical Therapy writes a blog and has a youtube channel all about rowing and preventing injuries! Check out Dr. Amanda Painter, DPT over at The Rowing Doc for more tips and techniques on rowing!
A row erg is a machine that is designed to mimic the movement and motion of rowing through the water. Similar to a treadmill being the machine to help runners run indoors. The same is for a rower when there isn’t a body of water to go out in a boat on. Now, obviously, there is more to it than this but that’s the basic gist of it.
Rowing Builds Strength and Endurance.
Strength and endurance are both important for runners, and rowing is a great way to improve both. For strength, it is a full-body workout but more specifically, it works the legs and posterior chain of the body. This is the powerhouse group of muscles that helps propel you forward when you are running.
Endurance is key for runners, as it allows us to run longer distances without fatigue. Rowing can help improve endurance by gradually increasing the amount of time spent rowing. This increased time spent rowing will help your body adapt and become better at using oxygen to fuel activity, thus improving endurance.
Rowing is low impact, which makes it a good option for runners who are prone to injuries.
When it comes to running, there’s a risk of injury with every stride. This is especially true if you’re not used to running, doing too much running, or if you’re coming back from an injury.
One way to help reduce the risk of injuries is to add some cross-training into your routine. Cross-training can help strengthen muscles that you don’t use when running, and it can also help improve your overall fitness level.
Rowing is a great option because it’s low impact. This means that it’s gentle on your joints, which can be helpful if you’re prone to running injuries. Rowing can also help improve your running form, which can further reduce your risk of injury.
Rowing is a Total Body Workout that Prevents Running Injuries
Rowing is a total body workout that engages multiple muscle groups. In fact, it engages 86% of the muscles in your body. This helps to prevent overuse injuries in the runner’s dominant leg muscles. By using this many different muscles in your body you are giving the legs a little bit of a break. Now, that isn’t to say that the main powerhouse of the rowing movement isn’t the legs, because it is. According to the American Fitness Professionals Association, rowing is 65 to 75 percent legs and 25 to 35 percent upper body. But you still have the upper body component in there assisting the legs.
The full-body effort involved in the rowing motion engages all the major muscle groups, including the core which is often overlooked by runners. The posterior chain is targeted as well as the quads, shoulders, and arms. This whole-body connection makes you a stronger runner, cyclist, or athlete of any kind!
Rowing Works the Posterior Chain
Although rowing has a full-body benefit, one of the specific areas that I love about it targeting is the posterior chain. The posterior chain refers to the musculature on the back of the body, from the head to the toes.
The posterior chain plays an important role in running performance and efficiency. However, more specifically, these muscles are the prime movers in forward propulsion. Which means they make you move forward. And the stronger these muscles are, the faster you are going to move forward!
How to Supplement a Running Program With Rowing
If you’re a runner, there’s a good chance that you’re fairly competitive. At least with yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to get better and win? And if you can improve your running performance by incorporating another sport into your routine, why wouldn’t you do it?
When it comes to rowing and runners, there are two ways that you can go about adding it into your routine:
First, you can row during your off days from running. This will help to give your body a break, and it will also allow you to focus on improving your rowing form.
Second, use rowing as a supplement to your running program making your workouts into brick style. Start with a row and then run or switch it up.
If you’re looking to improve your speed, stamina, or form, try adding in a few rows each week. You may be surprised at how beneficial this can be!
What Rower Should a Runner Get?
My favorite rower out there is the Concept 2 rower. It is what I own and for what I use it for it is the best bet. It is a workhorse and does a great job. However, there are other options available depending on your budget and goals! Two other popular rowing machines are the NordicTrack and Hydrow.
Final Thoughts on Rowing for Runners
Rowing is a great way to cross-train and it can be beneficial for runners. Why? Rowing strengthens your muscles, which helps prevent injury in the runner’s dominant leg muscles and improves coordination. If you’re looking for a way to supplement your running program or if you’re dealing with an injury, rowing may just help!
Related articles to Rowing for Running
Why Runners Need to Strengthen the Posterior Chain
How does Cross-Training Prevent Injuries
Best Gifts for Injured Runners
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Best Activity for Injured Runners
Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.