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With the anticipation a World Cup and Ashes being hosted in our back yard this summer, it could be said that this is possibly one of the most exciting summers of cricket we’ve had in years. So, let’s briefly discuss some of the stressors cricket players, specifically bowlers, face when playing this truly great sport.

During the initial front foot contact, fast bowlers experience forces up to nine times their bodyweight, with their anterior and posterior braking forces continuing at two to three times a person’s bodyweight (Mason et al, 1989). This ground reaction force results in a large amount of stress being placed on the bowler’s body (Bartlett, R et al, 1996).

So, why might mobility be important to a bowler? Well put simply, any muscular imbalances or mobility issues could be detrimental to the athlete’s ability to perform the skill to the best of their ability. Furthermore, it can be the contributing factor to a player becoming injured and having to spend a significant amount of time on the side line. Take Mitchell Johnson for example (pictured above), imagine if he had a lack of mobility through his left ankle. Every time he lands on his front foot, potentially sending up to nine times his own bodyweight through his bones, this lack of mobility and muscular imbalance may potentially be the start of what could lead to a serious injury of his ankle, knee or even be a contributing factor to a lower back injury.
 
The upkeep and training of mobility is indisputably crucial to the physical wellbeing of a bowler and the vital to their overall performance and success. RockTape offers a variety of tools and equipment to help improve and maintain mobility and has played a key role in my client-based training, as well as my personal fitness.
My five top Mobility & Stretching exercises are:

Self-myofascial release – before each game or training session, you will often see professional players on foam rollers and mobility balls. The RockBalls are a great tool to help you to get into all those tight muscles. When you find a tight spot, hold and pulse over that area for 30s-1min
Stick Mobility Pigeon Stretch – The pigeon is great for stretching out the hip capsule, glute, and front line on the side with the leg back. Climbing your hands up the stick allows you to build active control and strength in the hip. Hold for anything up to 1-2 minutes on each leg.
Stick Mobility Bow & Arrow – This helps to stretch your lateral line from your foot to your arms. Which is crucial for bowlers who often will snap their elbow down towards their hip, if the bowler has a weaknesses or tight lateral line, this could result in a side strain. Hold for up to 6-10s in the end pose anything up to 3-5 reps on each side depending on how stiff you may be.
Stick Mobility Slap Shot – I love this one for an all-round stretch and prepping my body before I bowl. It helps to release your chest, shoulders, rib cage, oblique line, adductors and hamstrings. If I’m ever short on time this is my go to Stick Mobility flow.
Rock Band assisted ankle mobilisers – This is brilliant to help improve dorsiflexion through your ankle. Which is important for all aspects of lower limb movements. Two sets of 20 reps on each leg of flexing your knee over your toes whilst keeping your heel on the ground, is a great way to start to lengthen that calf muscle.

Written by Simon Webster PT & S&C Coach