Pain free cricket
Here is a challenge for you…. try and find an adult cricketer who hasn’t experienced back, knee or shoulder pain at some point in their career. Spoiler: you will struggle.
Why should playing a sport you are passionate about result in waking up on a Sunday in pain? Is it worth it? Probably! Can it be prevented? Absolutely!
This article will outline the process in allowing my clients to ditch the deep heat and painkillers and play pain free cricket.
Prevention is better than the cure
Most injuries don’t happen by chance, especially in a non-contact sport such as cricket. They are caused by repeated stress to the body whether that be bowling, batting, fielding, or keeping. You don’t have to be old to get injured like this either.
In a recent study, 39 out of 50 elite fast bowlers (Average age of 18.9) had experienced a prospective lower back stress injury (Always et al, 2020).
This shows us that most of the injuries that adults are experiencing are manifested during their childhood and teenage years.
This comes as no surprise when you consider how unnatural a human movement something like the fast-bowling action is. Your brain will find the easiest route to get your arm from A to B, but this isn’t normally the safest route. If a part of your body, such as your hips, lacks mobility then your lumbar spine region will compensate to achieve the same movement outcome upstream. Therefore, removing these compensatory movements is the key to not only pain free cricket, but a pain free life.
Many of these movement deficiencies are born during childhood and it is only going to get worse with children spending more time than ever sat down. Look at a toddler picking something up of the floor and you will witness a perfect squat. 10 years later and the same human can’t touch their toes.
What can be done to help these children develop into adults without carrying the baggage of an injury history and movement deficiencies?
Teaching children how to squat, hinge and lunge alongside building up strength, mobility and stability in the right areas is the answer. This will limit compensatory movement patterns and mean that when they are old enough to step foot in a gym, they can concentrate on building power upon their strong foundations.
Stop attacking the symptoms
Your body is smarter than you give it credit for. If your hamstrings are tight, then they are likely doing you a favour and stopping you from getting injured. If something is tight then its strong and muscles tighten up as a protective mechanism. You have something called a Golgi tendon organ at the end of each muscle fiber which will inhibit motion if they sense you are pushing beyond your capabilities (Haff and Tripplett, 2016).
So, if your hamstrings are tight stop endlessly stretching them and instead work out WHY they are tight in the first place.
If a joint lacks stability or mobility, then it will take some stability or mobility from the neighbouring joints to assist in movement. Let’s take immobile hips as an example again. The knees and lumbar spine will give up stability to make the hips more mobile. Therefore, if a muscle or joint is sore, you can take a pretty good guess that one of the neighbours are the guilty party.
Control the controllable
Do the basics well and consistently and you will magically get better. Get sufficient sleep, drink plenty of water, consume enough protein and take your warmups seriously. A world class strength and conditioning programme is nothing without those 4 things. They are all within your control instead of being dependent on your teammates and coach. These are non-negotiables to play pain free cricket but because of how simple they sound are often forgotten.
Nothing stated in this article is rocket science. That is a good thing because it makes it achievable for everyone, so what are you waiting for? Don’t react to an injury, be proactive and prevent it and you’ll thank yourself in the future.
If you have any questions or more personal details you want answered, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Alway, P., Felton, P., Brooke-Wavell, K., Peirce, N., & King, M. (2020). Cricket Fast Bowling Technique and Lumbar Bone Stress Injury. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 53(3), 581–589.
Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (Fourth edition.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.