I’m sure you all know that feeling of getting up in the morning, the body a bit stiff from the day before. For me this is a common occurrence in the summer months.
Each Saturday I play cricket in the Devon League, and then every other week a 3 day game from Sunday to Tuesday for the Devon County side.
For all those of you who may not follow cricket as closely- you may think “what’s the problem?” A gentleman’s game played in the sun, turning your arm over occasionally and of course the cream teas . Well, you’re right, especially with regards to the cream teas. I prefer the Devon version -cream (clotted) then jam (raspberry preferably), and of course no raisins- why ruin a perfectly good scone? For more information on scones please next month’s post “Beyond the scone….”
However, in reality cricket can be tough on the body. As a bowler I usually bowl 10 overs on a Saturday, at full pace which puts large strains through the body. The following morning it is often hard work to get moving, and warming up to bowl can take quite some time. Over the next three days another 30-40 overs is not uncommon, therefore it is important that I do all I can to keep “loose”.
At all levels of sport warm ups are done pretty well these days. Cricket warm ups all have a fairly similar schedule no matter where in the world you play. Most teams have a game of football or something similar, usually played far more competitively than the cricket to come. This season I have scored 8 in 12 games, in the “youngies vs. the oldies”, the highlight of which was my left footed hatrick including a top corner strike (hotly debated) from somewhere between 15 and 50 yards- depending on who you talk to. Any drill involving a bit of gentle jogging to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving is a good start.
I find stretching is a key part of my warm up. Once I’m breathing a bit heavier I like to do a combination of dynamic stretches to get the muscles ready to work in their full range. I focus particularly on stretching out my quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and back. These are areas commonly injured by fast bowlers, and these stretches allow me to move better when it comes to bowling a few practice balls, and building up to my full pace.
The other thing that I do without fail is use my foam roller. For those of you who don’t know what a foam roller is- it is a thick round roll of foam that is used to help massage out tight areas by rolling your body over it. I would highly advise people to try it.
One thing in amateur sport that everyone seems to know about, but never do is a cool down, and understandably so when the bar is open. Even if for only 5 minutes after leaving the field I make a point of going through a few key stretches, and a quick go on the foam roller to help loosen off those muscles that have worked hard- they deserve it. For those like me who are playing the next day and don’t have the access (or heart) for an ice bath, or the British Channel – this can make a huge difference in how you feel in the morning.
Often during our away games we have access to a pool, so going for a gentle swim mixed in with a few Olympic standard dives can be a nice way to loosen off in a less formal way!
Maintenance during the week:
For a cricketer most of your strengthening work wants to be done in the off season, to ensure that you reach peak fitness in time for the season. In the week I try to keep my fitness up that I have gained. This is easier said than done with other commitments, so I try to keep it simple. 1 or 2 gym sessions a week depending on how much cricket I have on, focusing on the compound exercises that target the big muscle groups. These include squats, bench press, pull ups, bent over rows, shoulder press and bit of core work. This benefits me as a bowler by ensuring that my body can maintain a strong action in my delivery stride, and allowing me to generate more pace.
I also try to fit in a bit of cardio work – usually a short one run with a few sets of 20m sprints. This is quite appropriate for my cricket where I need speed over short distances for running between the wickets, running into bowl, and chasing the ball on those rare occasions I’m not hiding in the slips.
Overall I find this a very simple and effective way of ensuring that my body allows me to perform to the best of my ability during the season. I would highly recommend it to any athlete, no matter what their background, to spend a few minutes before and after to ensure you get your best out of your body.
Chartered Physio, Ocean Physio & Rehab
Devon Cricket Captain