As you age, your joints may have aches and flexibility loss from arthritis or other degenerative issues. Old exercise regimens that you used to enjoy are now too painful. You still need to have a consistent exercise routine to keep your body healthy, however. Try rowing machines as a viable exercise option for joint health.
The Essential Motion
With any exercise routine, you want a uniform workout that engages all the muscles at some point. A rowing machine simulates an actual boating action. Your legs and arms bend and straighten as you slide forward and backward on a seat. Even your abdominal muscles are engaged as long as you hold them tightly as you move on the machine.
The main reason rowing works for joint health is the reduced impact. If you have arthritis of the knee, for example, jogging on concrete is excruciatingly painful. Rowing takes the impact out of the action and allows the muscles to exercise effectively for a healthy body.
Seat and Handle
Select a rowing machine that has a wide seat, along with ample cushioning. You reduce stress on your hips and back, especially if you have chronic lower-back pain, with a padded seat. Avoid machines with thin cables or handles as grips. Painful arthritic joints, for example, cannot effectively hold these slim handles. A bar handle provides more surface area for grip with less pressure on the finger and wrist joints.
Avoid machines that use standard, stacked weights as resistance. When the weight transitions on the machine, slight impacts occur across the machine, irritating your joints. Select machines that have fluid or air chambers creating the resistance for a smooth workout.
Rowing machine manufacturers use preset workout regimens as a marketing tool on the control panel. Although helpful for some users, these regimens often change the machine’s resistance too quickly, creating joint pain. Manually adjust your resistance so that it is not abrupt during the workout.
Take time to adjust the foot pads before your workout. They are usually only height-adjustable, although some models have limited horizontal adjustment. Sit on the machine and place your feet where they feel the most comfortable. Ask a friend to adjust the foot pads to match your foot placement.
Selecting the lowest resistance possible, start your workout slowly. You may feel some joint aches, but there should not be any sharp pains. As you continue your workout, your muscles and joints should warm up and feel more comfortable. Only increase resistance after several workouts to gain strength.
Using a rowing machine helps you burn fat and gain some muscle through resistance. Muscle mass protects and supports your joints. If you continue with your rowing workouts, your joint pain should decrease because of the increased muscle support. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen. Specific health issues may hinder your progress on a rowing machine, but its health benefits give you a chance at a healthier and longer life.