Injury risk in fast bowlers is four times higher than for any other cricket activity, with most injuries occurring in the lower back. Simple strains and sprains can progress to stress fractures which will significantly impact on a bowlers’ season.
Learn More: What is a stress fracture?
Much has been written about “overloading” in bowlers and the need to avoid this to reduce injury risk, however we need to consider that the opposite is also true – that the prescription of high training loads should improve players’ fitness which in turn may protect against injury. This would lead to greater physical outputs and resilience in competition, and a greater proportion of the squad being available for selection each week. This concept is applicable for all athletes as well as fast bowlers.
Learn More: Common Throwing Injuries
Now, before you go out and think this means we just need to do massive levels of high level fitness including bucketloads of bowling, let’s just clarify a few things.
Firstly, we need to ensure that we get to these high training loads gradually over an appropriate period of time (the average work done over a period of time, commonly 4 weeks, is called the “chronic load”). Secondly, you still can overdo things and increase injury risk by having big spikes in training or playing load (the average work done over a shorter period of time, usually 1 week, is called the “acute load”). This means you need to have a way of monitoring the load – in a bowlers case, this can simply be the number of balls bowled per session.
There are a few rules and guidelines that have been found over time to make this a bit easier to follow:
- Bowling between 123 and 188 balls per week is the ideal in mature adults, otherwise known as the “Goldilocks effect”- not too many, not too few!
- Bowling 2-3 times per week reduces injury risk, and allows you to focus on other aspects of your game if you are having more sessions per week
Putting it all together
- Aim to gradually increase the load and number of balls bowled per week, and
- See this as something that will reduce the chances of an injury, as long as
- We achieve this in a graduated way, with appropriate rest and recovery between sessions
Our bones and soft tissues can withstand a lot of stress, but we need to give our body an opportunity to adapt.