If you have ever played cricket for an afternoon or longer, the chances are you have suffered from sore muscles the next day. If you have you know how terrible it is to hobble around like a geriatric for anything up to 2 days.
More seriously, if you play more than once a week this soreness can cut your performance on the pitch: The sorer you are the less power you can produce and the more quickly you become tired.
Not something that is conducive to more runs and wickets.
So what is this and how can you avoid it?
In the world of exercise physiology the soreness has a fancy acronym: DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). There are several theories behind to why it happens but nobody knows for sure.
As a result, there is also no way to avoid it fully. But don't worry, DOMS has been the subject of a lot of research and the white jacket wearing bods have discovered a few ways to reduce the effects.
- Warming up. Most coaches encourage warm ups to prevent soreness but there is no evidence that a warm up has any significant effect on DOMS. However, warming up is crucial for many other reasons so you may as well do it. Any minor effect on DOMS can be seen as a bonus.
- Playing cricket. A far more effective preventative method is to play lots of cricket. The more you play the less effect DOMS will have on you. You must balance that with the risk of over playing too, but 2 weekend games and a midweek evening match will not cause you many issues and will see fast adaptations.
- Specific training. Strength, power and endurance training will all reduce the effect of DOMS on your cricket. It would be easy to adapt this training technique by doing some short, intense training (technical work would be best) 1-2 days before the match (link via straightothtebar).
- Adequate nutrition. A good diet with loads of vegetables (and some fruit) contains plenty of DOMS-fighting vitamins. A slow release Vitamin C supplement may assist some people but your focus should be on getting plenty of green, leafy vegetables and peppers with some berries and oranges now and again.
- Swimming. Gentle exercise immediately after intense training or a match has been proven to ease the pain of DOMS. Swimming is perfect because it is so easy on the joints and the water provides a gentle massaging action. That said, some bodyweight exercises, playing with children or skipping can be just as effective as long as it remains gentle.
If you are really brave you could try contrast baths of ice cold water, but I think that might be asking too much, even for the most dedicated.