A way to deal with back pain for fast cricket bowlers

Image used for reference only - Ishant Sharma
Image used only for reference - Ishant Sharma

An important aspect in a cricket team’s success is the possession of a skilled fast
bowler. Different formats of cricket matches put different physical demands on the
bowlers. Such formats range from a 5 day test match to a one day match. Increase in
popularity of T20 format amongst spectators has put the players into new physical
challenges since the game is fast. While injuries are inevitable in this sport, it is possible to
minimize the chances of sufferings by using correct techniques and training.

Low back pain is prevalent in fast bowlers especially the young still maturing ones.
Repetitive actions while bowling cause overuse, and symptoms begin to crop up with time.
Excessive rotatory motion for long periods of time may even lead to stress fractures of the
vertebrae. Reports suggest that the force of more than 8-10 times the body weight is
transmitted through the body at the time of front foot landing of delivery stride. When this
is combined with extremes of back bending and rotations, the lower back is put at
increased risk of injury.

In view of this, exercise training of these players should include both mobility as well
as stability components. A good balance between the length and strength of muscles play a
very important role. Good warm up and cool down sessions must include stretches of the
hamstrings, quads, gluts, piriformis, calves, back, and shoulders. Hip muscle strengthening
gives power to the bowler which in turn increases the stability and the speed of the ball.
Training should include good core stability control to prevent excessive lower back
rotations. Exercises like lunges, jump squats, pulling and pushing target muscle groups that
are required in bowling. Shoulder stability exercises especially rotator cuff strengthening
should also be a vital part of the training.

Since landing of the bowler is a high impact activity, good shock absorbing shoes
must be looked for with a good arch support. Technique correction plays a very important
role in injury prevention. High use of upper limb strength in lieu of a correct technique
increases the possibility of injury. Results happen over time and not overnight, work hard
and stay patient. Use the correct techniques and stay fit.


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