Saturday, December 23, 2006

More on Erg Use

After writing two posts ago that I wasn't aware of any research on static vs. dynamic ergs, I came across some. Ivan Hooper, Sports Medicine/Sports Science coordinator for Rowing Australia and Sports Physiotherapist at the Australian Institute of Sport, wrote a review of some studies that looked at erg use in June of this year. It is short, just over one page, and you should take a few minutes to read it. Hooper starts out with a recap of the Kleshnev paper I discussed earlier, saying that he believes "all of these factors lead to an increased load applied to the structures of the trunk, and particularly the spine. Greater work done by the trunk could produce earlier fatigue of the trunk muscles, placing the spine at risk." If you recall, Kleshnev found that because the Concept II erg is static, forces are loaded on the body differently on the erg than on the water. Fast legs produce more power on the water and slow legs and strong upper body produces more power on the erg. A few highlights from Hooper:

Holt et al (2003) studied the effects of prolonged ergometer rowing. Over a 60 minute piece there were significant changes in the way the athletes moved. ... The authors attributed these changes to fatigue of the trunk muscles during the piece, reinforcing that fatigued trunk muscles may lead to low back injury.

In my experience, I feel that athletes often pay little attention to their rowing technique when on an ergometer. The level of coaching supervision is often limited as well. The result is that athletes spend time on the ergometer under greater trunk load than when on the water, with poor technique and poor postural positions. The end result is an increased load on the spine which can increase the risk of injury.

[T]hose athletes with current back pain regularly report that ergometer rowing aggravates their pain more than on water rowing. When this feedback occurs over a significant number of athletes over a number of years it is difficult to dismiss.

After Hooper wrote this, he apparently received quite a few emails about the use of Rowperfect ergs or Concept IIs on slides. In my next post I'll discuss Hooper's response.

I know these posts aren't lightweight specific, but I do think they're important to lightweights and since we're in a slow news time, I think it's worthwhile to have this discussion. Also, because I'll be getting into discussing products and brands, I think it's worthwhile to make some disclosures. I do not work for, receive payments from, nor do I expect to receive payments in the foreseeable future from either Concept II or Rowperfect (or any other rowing machine manufacturer). I have used Concept II ergs extensively, Concept II ergs with slides a few times, and I have never used a Rowperfect erg. I own a Concept II erg (no slides).

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Dan said...

Rowperfect ergs are neat! I've only been on one for a few mintues, but the sensation is much different than on a Concept II and it requires more control/coordiation!

Ashish Mohta said...

Yup thats true.I read an article a year back which had some tips of rowing.I saw some on discovery.Sometimes i think u need a dare to row in water like that