Exercises for Cricket: A guide to the rotator cuff
The rotator cuff is a hot topic in the world of cricket but what is it, why is it important for cricketers and how do you strengthen it?
Rotator cuff anatomy & function
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons located in the shoulder region. These muscles and tendons work together to stabilise and control the movement of the shoulder joint. The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff are:
This muscle runs along the top of the shoulder blade and helps in initiating the abduction (raising the arm away from the body) of the arm.
Located on the back of the shoulder blade, this muscle is responsible for external rotation of the arm (rotating the arm away from the body).
This muscle is situated beneath the infraspinatus and assists in the external rotation of the arm.
Positioned on the front of the shoulder blade, this muscle facilitates internal rotation of the arm (rotating the arm inward towards the body).
The tendons of these muscles form a cuff-like structure that surrounds the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and helps to hold it securely within the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff muscles and tendons play a crucial role in various shoulder movements and provide stability during overhead activities, such as lifting, throwing, or reaching. They also contribute to the fine control and coordination of shoulder movements. Injuries to the rotator cuff, such as strains, tears, or inflammation, are common in cricketers and can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. These injuries can occur due to trauma, repetitive overuse, or degenerative changes associated with ageing.
Why is the rotator cuff an important area for Cricket players to train?
The rotator cuff gives the shoulder joint stability when performing overhead motions so it is a vital area to train in order to throw and bowl pain free. We always use the analogy of the posterior chain being like the brakes in your body. So as well as allowing you to bowl and throw pain free, by having a healthy rotator cuff, you will be able to bowl and throw quicker. Why? If the brakes are in order, then the body will allow you to accelerate quicker. The body is incredibly smart and if you don’t have the facilitates to brake, it won’t allow you to get up to a speed where you can do serious damage. Many cricket rotator cuff injuries don’t occur from being too quick but instead from overuse.
4 rotator cuff exercises for Cricketers
Banded “W” Pull
With the band in front of you, start with your palms facing down. Pinch your shoulder blades to pull the band back and form a “W” shape with your arms and palms now facing forward. Squeeze and hold in this position followed by a slow, controlled movement back to the start.
Bottoms up kettlebell press
In a half kneeling position, flip the kettlebell and grip the handle tightly. Push the kettlebell overhead, keeping your wrist strong and kettlebell still.
Dumbbell external rotation
On your side, keep your elbow tucked in tight to your body with your shoulder blade pinned back and down. Keeping your wrist straight, raise the dumbell up to the sky, pausing in the top position.
TRX pull apart
Start with your body at a 45 degree angle, with core and glutes switched on and palms facing each other. Keeping your arms straight, pull your hands apart to bring your body forward and then control yourself back to the starting position.