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A rowing machine (indoor rower), as the name indicates, simulates the action of rowing a boat. There are several types of rowers, but most use a flywheel and some form of resistance (magnetic, air or water). Modern indoor rowers are often called ergometers (or ergs). Rowing primarily works the cardiovascular system but it also strengthens many muscle groups throughout the body, including those of the legs and core. Using the rowing machine properly is not intuitive and people frequently do it incorrectly. You need to use proper technique to stay injury- and pain-free. Find a knowledgeable person to show you how to use the machine.


Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but a few you may consider include:

  • If you are using correct form on the rowing machine, your neck and back should remain with an upright posture at all times and your core should be tight.
  • If you have limited hip or knee mobility, you can restrict how far you slide the seat forward. The seat should never slide closer to your heels than 6 inches.


  • Key factors for preventing muscle and joint stress or injury are correct form and movement sequence.
  • In the drive phase, 60% of the power should come from your legs, 20% should be holding in the core and 20% from finishing with the arms. Think of the drive as a pushing movement, not a pulling movement.


  • Begin at the lowest resistance until your form is perfect.
  • Add time, resistance and speed as tolerated.

This is general rowing information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.