wrist tendonitis with rowing

I have just started on the water rowing, and am having some pain in my right wrist. It goes away with rest and ice within a day or so. It is mild, but I would like to nip it in the bud, before it progresses. I have been working with a coach on keeping my wrists flat except for when needing to move them while feathering the oar blades. I am limiting my time on the water right now to about an hour, twice a week.

I generally paddle my kayak unfeathered when touring. I switched from feathered when I noticed some discomfort on long day paddles. I recently purchased a wing, but have not used it much yet, because I have been busy learning to row and taking a pool roll class (kayaking).

Does anyone know of any wrist exercises that will aid in rehab and injury prevention? I would really like to keep rowing if at all possible.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about tendonitis in the wrist. The most common cause is improper technique, and yes, you do want to and can nip it in the bud. First, I tell people how to line up the big knuckles on the dominant hand with the blade. For instance, if you’re right handed, the knuckels at the base of your fingers should be in perfect line with the blade when it is vertical held with your wrists flat as if you’re holding a surprise in each hand for someone, palms down. Hands should be shoulder width apart. Then, I tell people to make rainbows with the paddle, swinging it from side to side making an arc. You’ll find the low end in the water while the other hand is up and the position of your wrists shouldn’t change. As you continue the arc, the paddle in the water follows through toward the back of the boat, pushing the water and hence, pushing you and the boat forward. Swing the arc to the other side and that’s it!!! I hope you can picture that description. I’ve told and shown a lot of people that way, but never tried to describe it in writing. If your paddle is feathered, keep a loose grip on the left hand enough to let the shaft rotate inside your fingers. When you bring your right hand up, the paddle should slip through your fingers at just the right angle to catch the water without having to change the position of either wrist. Hope that helps. Let me know how you make out.

Soup Cans
Army pistol shooters do excerises with soup cans to strenghten the wrists.

I can’t quite visualize what you are

– Last Updated: May-18-04 8:41 PM EST –

what you are asking me to do. Dancingmouse are you talking about kayaking or rowing? It sounds like a description of an exercise someone would do with a kayak paddle. My pain is with rowing only. I can now paddle for hours and not experience any wrist or shoulder pain. I am having pain in my right wrist after rowing, on the water, about an hour.

I am afraid that the act of feathering the blade will be somewhat of an irritation for me, even if done correctly, so I am hoping for some wrist extensor exercises as well. Do you happen to know any? I'll be happy if I can row 1-2 hours, 1-2X a week, without risking injury. I have a problem with this wrist with overuse (it bothers me if I have to do a lot of suturing or if I am in surgery)

What kind of soup?

only clam chowder works
seriously- i’m not sure what to do, but i would suggest posting on the health and fitness section of the uk concept 2 site. 50 people will get back to you in days. hope you figure it out. often these things are just from doing something new and go away after a while.


One thing that helped me keep my wrists flat dring the catch & drive was to think of my fingers as being hooks and my arms and wrists as chains – loose until the pressure of the start of the drive pulls them straight. Try holding the grip with just the last two joints of your fingers, so that your forearm, the back of your hand, and your fingers to the first joint are all on the same plane, and use your thumb as little as possible on the drive. Try to roll the grip in your fingers to help feather instead of just dropping your wrists. And do stretch your wrists before you start.

So how do you like rowing on the water compared to the gym?

Are you able to keep your wrists latterly neutral throughout the stroke? I don’t know rowing but that’s what a bent shaft does for kayaks…


GH, I can’t keep my wrists neutral
when rowing on the water. I can minimize the movement, but some wrist ext/flex is needed when feathering the oars. When I row on the erg in the gym, I pull with flat wrists, but of course i am not doing any blade work.

That’s a good idea Andrew.
I’ll post and see what happens. I am hoping it’s just because I am new to rowing on the water.

Thanks for the idea. I’ll give it a try.
I like rowing on water, but it’s a lot more to think about!

I Like Beef Vegatable…

Life has seasons
Dance through them with care.

try supported wristcurls with light weights 2 or three pounds. That light. The main purpose is for mobility and lubrications within the tendons. Your forearms must be supported deing these curls. Do a few reverse ones for balance. When you can do hundreds with no discomfort go up a pound. If you are on a low fat diet, add some olive oil or flax seed oil (very bitter). Quality fats help with joint lubrication IMHOP.

Strong muscles can take the strain and shock off ligaments and tendons. After you are in no discmfort weight training might be in order.

I wish I knew enough to tell you about rowing technique, but…

OK, I guess I goofed,
I guess I don’t know what kind of rowing you mean, and it must be something I don’t really know much about. I’ve never heard the term “feathering” applied to anything but a kayak paddle. Yes, that’s what I was describing. I know you said rowing, but being new to this board (only a few weeks) I thought maybe you were new to the sport and calling it rowing instead of paddling. Some people do that. And when I checked your profile there was only info there about kayaking. My mistake. Please tell me, what kind of rowing is there that uses a feathering technique? Please describe it for me, you’ve really got my curiosity.

Well… I had a crazy busy night at work
and not only did my wrist bother me, but I had this eerie feeling all night like my shoulder was going to pop out of the joint. I took some motrin and my shoulder feels better, but my wrist still feels odd.

So I will limit my next rowing session to 30 minutes or so and try angstrom’s exercise, and continue working on short periods of practice with good technique. I’ll ice it when I get off, even if it feels okay at first. Obviuosly, if it’s not better, I won’t row at all. I will then be out of town for a work related conference, and will be off the water for at least a week.

Peter I have light weights but haven’t done wrist curls before. What do you mean about a supported forearm? I’ll give it a try after it stops hurting.

Andrew I posted on the UK rowing site as you suggested, expecting quite a response, and only had one Italian guy respond and tell me to scull, scull, and the scull some more!

I did do a google search and found that this is common to novice rowers and experienced rowers who increase their training intensity, so hopefully this will be temporary. If not, I still have many water miles in kayaks to look forward to and plenty of mindless miles on the erg:)

Thanks for your ideas.

It’s common for sliding-seat rowers to feather the blades (turn them parallel to the water) on the recovery by dropping their wrists. The oar sleeves have a “D” shape, and the oarlock is a slightly larger “D” with the pin on the straight side instead of the classic “Y”. This allows the oars to rotate in the oarlock but index solidly against the flat side during the drive.

Supported wrist curl

– Last Updated: May-19-04 9:49 PM EST –

you forearm sits on a horizontal surface like a desk or thigh. It is supported. This surface ends about an inch shy of your wrist so your hand has full freedom of motion. With a two pound weight in hand (palm up) you let the weight pull your hand down; just relax. This causes your wrist to bend back a bit. Then slowly curl your wrist upward maximizing your range of motion. Slowly let down; repeat.

To do reverse curls one does the same set up with the wrists palm down.

In writing this I also had the thought of theraputic putty (buy it fron an old time pharmacy or place that has a lot of priducts for access and safety for the physically challenged). They sell it cheap and it comes in grades. Use the easiest first (be humble at the beginning). If you ask nice (and I's sure you would) they might even include a tiny exercise book. People look at me funny when I rode the bus doing these exercises, but I once broke a martial arts hand training device that a store in chinatown tried to sell me. (The old man still remembers me, but jokes with me about my pants size increasing throughout the years) Beats thinking about the ads on the bus anyway.

Grayhawk meant sideways motion . . .
When he said “laterally neutral” - not flexion and extension.


Thanks Peter.
I am going to give this a try after a little more rest.

Rowing/feathering technique

Check with your coach to make sure your hands are properly positioned on the oars. If you’re off even a fraction of an inch you’ll have to flex your wrists all the more to properly rotate and feather during recovery.

The execises Peter recommended are excellent. The only other one I can think of involves a piece of broom handle (or large dowel - something the diameter or your oars would be perfect), about 3’ of clothes line or rope, and some weight (2 1/2 to 5 lbs whatever you can handle) - tie the weight to one end of the rope, tie the other end to the middle of the broom stick. Then extend your arms straight out, grasping the broom stick with a hand on each side of the rope - one palm up the other down - rotate broom stick and raise the weight then revese the palm up and palm down and lower the weight. You can also do this with supported forearms (sitting in a chair supporting your arms on your knees works if you use a shorter rope).