Preventing Bowling Overuse Injuries
Bowling is an extremely fun, competitive, and rewarding sport. However, it can also lead to some pretty serious injuries. On first appearance, bowling doesn’t seem like a sport that would have many injuries. You aren’t running, cutting and changing directions, or having physical contact. However, the nature of the bowling motion, along with the heavy ball, can lead to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur when a specific part of the body is overworked. In bowling, that would most likely be the arm on your dominant side. If you can imagine your bowling motion, it primarily involves just one side of your body. If you’re a righty, this means that the right side of your body is getting all of the stress. Vice versa for lefties. In order to prevent your dominant side from experiencing an overuse injury, it is important to prepare your body correctly. This involves a proper warm-up.
Warming up before bowling is important because it allows your muscles to become active before loading them with a bowling ball. Once your muscles are warm, they are better suited to partake in a bowling game. Not only will warming up protect you from injury, but it will also improve your game. Muscles that are stretched out and activated will perform better than muscles that are tight. This is due to muscle memory: your muscles recognizing the bowling motion during a game because they went through the same sequence during warm-up. Below is a list of bowling-specific warm-up exercises that will help loosen up your body and prevent over-use injuries. Try to make these a consistent part of your pre-bowling routine for the best results.
Arm Circles (small and large)
With arms out to the side, make small circles in the forward direction. Gradually increase the size of the circle until you are covering your full range of motion. Repeat in the reverse direction.
Roll your head in a complete circle. Repeat in the opposite direction. Stop and hold the stretch when you reach a position that is especially tight.
Doorway stretch (see video below)
Find a doorway or the corner of a wall. With your forearm parallel to your body (should look like a field-goal post), place your forearm on the edge of the doorframe or corner. Allow your body to sink forward, feeling the stretch across your chest. Repeat with the other arm.
Overhead Shoulder stretch (see video below)
With your hand behind your head and your elbow pointing towards the sky, grab your elbow with the opposite hand. Gently pull towards the opposite side. Repeat with the other arm.
Posterior Shoulder stretch (see video below)
Place one arm horizontally across your chest and grab the elbow with the opposite hand. Gently pull towards your chest. Repeat with the other arm.
Spread your legs slightly apart. With one arm raised straight over your head, lead with your fingers and bend to the side until you feel a stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.
This blog has been focused on the upper body, but the lower body is also involved in bowling. Any sort of dynamic warm-up stretches for your lower body would also be beneficial. These could include front lunges, side lunges, heal-to-rear stretch, toe grabs, and knee to chest stretch. The goal is to get your muscles warm and moving before beginning a game! See dynamic stretches from blog posted on August 21st.