I used to row competitively, but had to stop around 9 months ago due to bursitis in my right shoulder. I got treated, mostly cortisone, but it never really got a lot better– a new doctor diagnosed scapular dyskinesis that could be either cause or symptom.

Since then I've been doing some exercising here and there, and I would like to get back into it fully – probably not directly rowing but at least lifting/rowing ergometer or whatever, but I feel like I have to feel good about my shoulder first.

Unfortunately I cannot go to a physiotherapist due to cross country insurance stuff (I live abroad), so my questions are: Are there any exercises, self massages (eg myofascial) I can do that will help my shoulder? Against both bursitis and (probably more important) scapular dyskinesis. Thanks!

  • Scull or Sweep?
    – rrirower
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 21:18
  • Sweep, shoulder pain is on that side too :(
    – erocoar
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 21:47
  • Can you row opposite side?
    – rrirower
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 22:05

2 Answers 2


This question brings back memories. I’m a competitive rower and I had a similar situation. Although, my symptoms were more situated in the rhomboid/trap region without shoulder inflammation. I did, however, have some discomfort in the shoulder.

Here are some of the exercises/stretches I had to do as part of my rehab.

  • Thoracic Extension

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  • Thoracic Rotation

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  • Cross Body Horizontal Adduction Stretch

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  • Sleeper stretch

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  • Para scapular strengthening (T’s and Y’s) (sorry, no images)

The above is a small subset that should get you started. I would recommend you go back to your doctor and get his advice on the above exercises before trying them. I'd also suggest you suspend erg work (if you're doing it) until you feel no discomfort. The last thing you want to do is have a setback if you’re trying to get back into a boat.


A question at Stackexchange should never replace advices from professionals. Please, only view my answer as inspiration and not as recommendations for treatment.

If you take into account that

  • Scapular dyskinesis is a displacement of your shoulder blade (scapular) often caused by short muscles
  • 18 muscles attaches to each shoulder blade https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapula#function
  • Rows intensively trains a strong muscle called Trapezius, which attaches to the shoulder blade
  • You probably do not perform adequate stretching exercises (most people don't) and do not care about training antagonistic pairs equally.

I will first recommend you to get familiar with functional exercises (like crossfit) and stretching for your upper body to train it in a healthy way. Popular speaking you should not do row exercises without doing an equally amount of push ups.(I know this is not really an option for top athletes). Ideally you should perform an equally amount of exercises for all your major muscles in your upper body and make sure to retain full movement by proper stretching.

If you are out for specific video exercises for your situation, I think they are easy to find like http://www.thesportsphysiotherapist.com/treatment-of-scapular-dyskinesis/

Danish physiotherapists often recommends the book Robin McKenzie: "Treat your own shoulder", which detailed explains stretching exercises.

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