Do you feel like your rowing seat pad is a rock?
Do you think it’s time to invest in a new rowing machine seat cushion?
Lets take a look at a scenario.
You are excited to finally get a rowing machine and you have been waiting a long time to get in shape.
You’ve done the research, picked out the perfect rower, assembled it, and are ready to go!
You begin rowing and everything is great. Your muscles are working and your heart rate is elevated. The calorie counter is ticking away and you begin to sweat.
Then, all of a sudden after 15 minutes your butt is killing you! It hurts so bad it is hard to think about anything else and it gets to the point where you have to stop rowing!
Frustrated, you get off and wait for the numbness to go away. You were just starting to really get into the workout until this happened.
If this is you, do not worry! It happens to a lot of people and there is an easy fix.
Buying an inexpensive rowing machine seat cushion, combined with some other techniques, can virtually eliminate any lower body pain experienced while rowing.
What Can Cause Rowing Butt Pain?
While many people just blame a hard and uncomfortable seat for the cause of butt pain, this may not always be the case.
There are a few factors that can cause rowing butt pain that may want to be explored along with a new rowing machine seat pad.
1. Bad Seat
Ok, I kind of sound hypercritical but a lot of the time a rowing machine seat is very uncomfortable.
Each seat is not made to fit the specific user so it is difficult to manufacture a seat for everyone. Most times a seat is made for an average size person so if you are bigger or smaller your butt can really suffer.
Bad seats can cause pressure on certain parts of your butt that will begin to hurt after 10-15 minutes. Pressure on the glutes and hamstrings can begin to hurt your sitting bones as well as cut off blood flow to your rear.
A well designed rowing seat pad can fix this issue.
2. Bad Form
Many beginner rowers have not yet found their correct form and do not center their mass over the middle of the seat.
Beginner rowers often lean too far forwards or backwards and sometimes to the right or left. A lot of people don’t realize that just being right or left handed can subconsciously cause your body to put more stress on one side.
Try rowing “strapless” a few times a week. This means your feet are in the footrests with nothing securing them in place. This will force you to center yourself on the seat and not shift your weight to any side, otherwise you may fall off!
3. Muscle Soreness / Inexperience
When first starting to row your muscles will be exposed to a very abnormal type of workout. Many times the muscles used while rowing have not been worked out in years.
The ‘piriformis’ muscle is one example and after some time these muscles will strengthen and the pain will disappear.
Your butt and back will be sore for a few weeks, so you may need time to adjust to the new workout. Give your muscles some time to adjust and some of the pain will go away.
Remember to stretch these muscles before and after each workout.
It will also take time to build up to longer sessions. Just think of it as running. You don’t just start off by running 10 miles, you start off slow and build your way up.
4. Incorrect Seat Assembly
Ok, this may be embarrassing but it happens a lot. The design of the seat causes a lot of people to assemble it backwards because that’s how it looks like it should fit. This is especially true with the Concept 2 seat pad.
The part with the indentation should be in the back. This cutout is for your “tailbone” to sit in and relieve pressure in that area.
As you can see from the photo, some rowing machine seat pads are confusing. I can definitely see some people assembling this backwards, but as you can see the cutout for the tailbone should be in the back.
If your seat is on backwards, correcting it may solve some of your pain issues!
While many people buy a rowing machine to lose weight it can be the cause of some discomfort at first.
Having a few extra pounds can cause a lot of unnecessary pressure when all your weight is focused on your butt.
A rowing machine seat cushion and a little time will cure this.
6. Sitting Bones & Tail Bone
Your “ischial tuberosity” and “coccyx”, as Wikipedia puts it, are two areas that receive a lot of pressure when sitting.
If a seat is not designed properly or your sitting bones and tailbone do not align properly with the seat design, then these areas can begin to hurt.
Your bones can become a little more resilient to the pressure as time goes on but usually an extra rowing seat pad will fix this issue.
Benefits of Rowing Seat Pads
After going through all the causes of butt pain and a few ways to fix them, you can probably tell that a rowing seat pad solves a few of the problems.
Lets go over a few reasons why you should buy a rowing machine seat pad.
When you add a rowing seat pad to your erg or scull you will immediately notice the seat is more comfortable. While this may not matter when rowing a 2k, it will matter if you are rowing for longer periods of time.
A rowing seat pad will 100% make your workouts more comfortable and allow you to complete those longer rowing sessions.
Your workouts may even feel as comfortable as this puppy! Ok, most likely not but we can all dream about this during our next erg session.
Your session will be more comfortable because a well designed seat will alleviate unnecessary pressure on your sitting bones and tailbone. It will also increase blood flow to your hamstrings and glutes so they do not go numb.
Some rowing seat cushions even help to improve your form by better aligning your body to allow for better posture. This will help to reduce butt, back, and leg pain.
If you are using your rowing cushion for indoor and outdoor rowing you can even buy a pad that insulates your butt from the cold and can float.
All of these reductions in pain and improper form will allow you to focus on more important things and lead to better erg times.
Specifications and How to Select a Rowing Seat Pad
If you have now decided that you 100% want to purchase a rowing machine seat pad you need to look at the different types available.
Unfortunately like most things, rowing seat pads come in all shapes, sizes, and materials.
Below are the different specifications of different rowing seat pads and how to analyze each one.
Rowing machine seat cushions can come in different thicknesses from very thin all the way up to 3.0” thick.
When buying a thick rowing machine seat pad, you have to make sure it is made from high quality foam material.
This will ensure the cushion will compress to the correct height and not alter your rowing position and form.
It will also ensure the cushion does not cause unnecessary pressure on your hamstrings during a workout and decrease blood flow.
The cushions below will be perfect for rowing, but just keep this in mind if you are buying a generic cushion from the store.
A rowing seat pad can come in many different shapes with different molds, contours, and cutouts.
Some are specifically made for certain rowing machines. For example, you can buy a custom Concept2 seat pad or a WaterRower seat pad.
Other companies have also made rowing seats specifically for the Concept2 rowers. They are the most popular rowing machine so it has the largest market.
Rowing machine seat pads will have many designs, with some just a flat cushion and others having a lot of contours that mold to your butt.
You will also see many cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone to fit into.
When choosing a seat cushion, think about the shape of your rowing seat and where you feel pain while rowing. A good rowing seat pad will fit nicely on your seat and alleviate pressure where you are feeling pain.
You will see some very small, minimalist seats and some that almost look like a bucket seat.
Some rowing machine seat cushions will be wide, while other will be sized specifically to fit over a Concept 2 seat pad.
If you feel your seat is too small you may want a larger sized seat cushion. If you feel the size is ok but just want a little extra padding, you will want to make sure you don’t get a cushion that is too big and gets in the way.
Probably one of the most important categories is material.
It seems most cushions are either made from gel, foam, or some type of rubber (silicone, sorbothane).
The different materials all have their pros and cons, with all of them functioning almost the same.
Gel seems to be used in generic seat cushions that can easily be placed over any rowing seat. They are not highly customized and just add a layer of comfort on top of a hard seat.
Foam is used for more customized seats and usually has cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone. They can be very thick and function similar to gel seats.
A variety of rubber seats are used to provide a thin layer of protection for more of a training style. They are highly customized and have a lot of contours and cutouts. Rubber may not be as comfortable as gel or foam but it works well for athletes who are looking for a little extra cushioning while still maintaining the feeling of a normal rowing seat. Some of these seats also help to keep proper rowing form.
Just keep an eye out for the type of material your cushion is made from. You may want a material that floats if you are using it on water or to help insulate your butt from the cold seat.
You also don’t want any material that will absorb sweat and may want something that can easily be washed.
Top 3 Rowing Seat Pads
Below are my top 3 general rowing machine seat pads. I included a few different options to hopefully fit everyones needs.
There are some rowing seat pads with mixed reviews. I feel this is due to the people buying the seat cushions already having a problem to begin with and it is possible that a cushion will not totally fix the issue.
I also believe some companies don’t want to create a seat pad that alters the position of the user too much which often results in reviews saying the cushions are too thin and provide no additional comfort.
Nonetheless, here are my top 3 rowing seat pads:
“Rowing Machine King” Rowing Machine Seat Cushion (Concept2)
The “Rowing Machine Seat Cushion” by your very own Rowing Machine King! This is my very rowing seat pad designed to help cure rowing butt pain!
It is similar to the ComfiLife Orthopedic Cushion that I used to recommend but it is specifically design to fit on a rowing seat.
I hope this seat pad is a huge success! It is designed specifically for the Concept2 but can fit on most rowing machine seats.
Plus, you can use it as a regular cushion without the straps, so it can fit on most exercise equipment seats.
See the full Rowing Machine King Seat Cushion Review & Pricing here.
Skwoosh Gel Rowing Seat Pads
Skwoosh is a popular brand that has created a few rowing and kayaking gel seat pads.
There have been mixed reviews about how well they work but they have received more positive reviews than negative.
They are not extremely thick so they won’t alter your positioning and they are waterproof.
Some people have combined them with the Concept2 seat pad and found it to work well. They have 3 available pads that all function similarly.
YakPads Gel-Filled Saddle Paddle
This is another popular gel seat pad that can be used for many activities.
It is marketed towards kayakers but can be used on rowing machines or any sitting activity.
It is slightly thicker than the Skwoosh gel seats and has been used by some rowers with success.
See full YakPad Saddle Paddle reviews & pricing here.
Top Concept2 Seat Pads
Due to the Concept2 being such a popular rowing machine there are a lot of seat pads made just for this rower.
While any of the rowing seat pads mentioned above will work (especially my Rowing Machine King Seat Pad!), here are a few designed specifically for the Concept2 seat.
Concept 2 Seat Pad
You can order a Concept2 seat pad from the Concept2 website.
The pad is very thin but does have sitting bone cutouts and helps to add a little layer of protection.
The reviews for this pad have been pretty poor but for the price it is worth a try. A lot of rowers pair this cushion with another to make a comfortable seat.
The cost is only $3.50 and can be ordered here.
Concept 2 Seat Cushion
The Concept2 Seat Cushion by Hornet Watersports will fit perfectly over your current Concept2 seat.
It is made from 1/2″ thick PU foam and does a nice job of adding a little extra protection to your butt.
It has anti-slip material on the bottom to prevent it from moving around while rowing.
See full Concept2 Seat Cushion reviews & pricing here.
EndureRow Concept2 Rowing Seat
The EndureRow Concept2 Rowing Seat is actually an entirely new seat that comes with easy instructions on how to make the change.
The seat is a little bit softer and has cutouts for your sitting bones and tailbone.
The cost is quite high so this is for serious rowers who are confident this will work.
See full EndureRow Seat reviews & pricing here.
Vapor Fitness Concept2 Seat Cushion
The last option is the Concept2 Seat Cushion Cover by Vapor Fitness.
This is a piece of silicone padding that fits perfectly over a Concept2 seat.
It can also be combined with other cushions for more support.
See full Concept2 Seat Pad reviews & pricing here.
Create Your Own Rowing Seat Pad
Buying one of the rowing seat pads mentioned above isn’t going to break the bank, especially if you already coughed up the cash for a Concept2 rower. However, it can be frustrating to spend $20-$50 on a seat cushion only to find out it didn’t solve the problem.
That is why you may want to make your own cheaper seat cushion to see if it helps with relieving some pain before buying a higher quality item.
There are two easy options to making your own rowing seat pad for cheap.
1. Bubble Wrap & Towel
Many people resolve their rowing seat problems by simply taking some bubble wrap, cutting it to the shape of the seat and placing a towel over it. Others skip the bubble wrap and just sit on a folded towel.
You may find that this will help your problem and can invest in a more durable option later.
You can buy Bubble Wrap for about $10.00 and hopefully you have an old towel laying around your house.
2. Buy & Cut a Foam Pad
You can go to any local discount store and find some foam seat pads or pieces of foam for about $10.00. Then measure where your sitting bones are and create some cutouts.
If you prefer to search online for foam, you can look at the FastCap Kaizen Foam 20mm which should do the trick.
You can also browse the bestselling rubber sheets & rolls.
This video does a great job of explaining how to make your own rowing seat pad.
You can then adjust the cushion as you see fit. After some experimentation you should be able to see some improvement.
When I first started writing this post I did not think it would be almost 3,000 words long. For me, rowing for long periods of time does not bother my butt too much so I thought providing some insight on how to fix the issue and recommending a cushion would be easy.
However, I did not realize all the different nuances of rowing seat pads and how every person is effected differently.
There are 1,000s of different seat cushions out there but hopefully one of these will get the job done. Just remember that the problem may not only be an uncomfortable seat but can be any of the causes listed above.
Give your butt some time to get used to rowing, focus on good form, start off with cheap, simple solutions and work your way up.
If you have any comments or questions on rowing seat pads you can leave them in the comment section below.
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