History of cricket is replete with fast bowlers disappearing from the scene struck by back pain. While Brett Schulz of South Africa couldn’t return, Waqar Younis of Pakistan overcame the menace in the 90’s. Pat Cummings in recent times conquered the pain but his Australian compatriot James Pattinson is still struggling.
Understanding the movement pattern the spine undergoes during the game is of paramount importance. For example, a bowler, fast or spin would extend his back first followed by lateral flexion and rotation of the spine.
The end movement is flexion at the completion of the delivery. The chunk of the strain the spine encounters is during extension and rotational phase of the movement. The biomechanics experts come into play in tandem with the bowling coach when any of the movement causes excessive stress and stops a bowler from bowling.
No matter which muscle recruitment dominates, deeper spinal muscles for all the movements have to be strengthened in the kinetic chain, especially in the early foundational stage. Some cricketers have asymmetry of strength in two sides of lateral core.
For some there is great disparity of strength in front and back chain of the core. Certain core stabilization test would reveal the strength and weakness of different chain. Administering exercises on the basis of the test would make the programme that much accurate.
It is absolutely mandatory to look at an issue in an isolated manner. No two injuries or for that matter individual’s back stability can be same. So fixing issues can’t be same. However, here we are discussing things in general perspective than specific.
The progressive overloading of the exercise is a key factor. Once someone has mastered the very base level plank, side plank and bridging on the stable surface of floor he or she must progress to unstable Swiss ball or Bosu ball. Exposing the deeper core muscles to greater challenge under unstable environment will make them fire more. The next progression is to turn the static exercises into dynamic mode.
Now it’s also time to add external resistance like tubing or dumbbell to throw more challenge. Finally move the base into power developing core exercises using medicine ball and cable pulley. Here exercises become cricket specific.
A beginner at any level will start with Plank hold as an anti extension exercise (strengthening anterior core). Side plank hold will be anti lateral flexion and hip bridging as anti flexion exercise.
These are on the floor which of course, is a stable surface. Once the holds crosses a duration of say 90 sec to 2 minutes with good posture and form it is time to move to Plank on unstable Swiss ball or Bosu side plank hold. The next progression would be either plank and arm reach on the floor, may be Swiss ball plank roll out. These are called dynamic core exercises.
Now he advances to power generating core exercises. Medicine ball rotational throws, cable pulley resisted reverse chopping, may be lunge and rotate - mimicking the cricketing movements.
To sum it up, this gradual build up, culminating into cricketing movement will allow the spine to adapt to the torture stress the game throws.
© Cricket World 2019