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Athlete health and safety in rowing: editorial by the FISA (rowing) Sports Medicine Commission
  1. Alain Lacoste,
  2. Jo Hannafin,
  3. Mike Wilkinson,
  4. Matt Smith,
  5. Denis Oswald,
  6. Jean-Christophe Rolland
  1. Maison du Sport International, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alain Lacoste, Maison du Sport International, Av de Rhodanie 54, Lausanne 1007, Switzerland; dralainlac{at}

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Rowing should become the favourite sport of our young people as no other exercise can provide them with the physical and moral qualities that they need: energy, initiative and health

—Pierre de Coubertin

The FISA Sports Medicine Commission advises the FISA Council and member federations on rowing-related sports medicine issues. Rowing has been part of the Olympic programme since 1896; women’s rowing was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1976 and the lightweight category was included in 1996. The first World Championships for ‘Adaptive’ (persons with a disability) rowers was in 2002. Rowing was introduced into the programme of the Paralympic Games of 2008.

Clinical issues in rowing

Most rowing biomechanical and physiological research has been performed on rowing machines (‘ergometers’) on which rowers can closely mimic the movement of the rowing stroke. There has been less research on boats in water. Most rowing injuries are due to overuse/overload or poor mechanics. Lower back pain, wrist tendon disorders and rib stress fractures are the most common injuries reported. There has been a well-documented increase in the incidence of these injuries since the 1991 introduction of the hatchet ‘big’ blades.

Lightweight rowing, where athletes compete within defined weight limits, shares many of the problems associated with other weight-controlled sports. The Sports …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.