Mar 5, 2013

Rowing and Ribs - A Case Study pt 1 [Writing Injuries]

Fiction is based on true life a little bit right? Yes yes, even if it involves zombies.  So, taking a break from reading through medical books I asked two female rowers from Ohio State University about their rib injuries this past season (2010-2011 school year).  Which is no small task as my alma mater is the University of Michigan.

I was surprised to even learn that rowing can result in broken ribs.  It’s not like crew is a combat sport, but apparently it’s the act of taking a stroke with the oar itself that does the damage.  When rowing, the athlete pulls the oar towards them each stroke. Their fists and bottom of the palm end up hitting the rib cage as they frame the torso.  The oar shaft is then forced down along the body before it’s pushed out, fists running down the last few ribs before leaving the body.  It’s not uncommon for rowers to put 30 kg of force on the blade each stroke, and all that power can also hit the ribs.  Additionally, the core muscle group can pull on the rib bones in opposite directions too much, and the bones break or fracture under the strain.

One of the rowers just had stress reactions on her ribs, but was still forbidden to workout at all for four days. She noticed an issue a few days before she was diagnosed, but dismissed the pain because it would show up during warm-ups and then disappear. But as days progressed her ribs hurt worse, and longer, prompting a visit to her trainer.  She was told by her trainer to ice for 20 min, take it off for 40 min, ice again, and so on for the entire first day. For two days, she wore a brace just around campus and was told to wear it while exercising for another three weeks. However, after her four day reprieve, she had no trouble working out with the team and competed in a race days after her return to the water.

She's lucky. Her teammate broke her ribs.  Twice.

1 comment:

  1. It has never occurred to me that broken ribs could be a rowing injury. I would have thought it would be some kind of shoulder problem. I shudder at using ice though - I hate being cold, and tend to ignore that advice :-/