I’m not talking about a fast bowler putting one into your ribs, or even turning an ankle over. That can happen at any age.
I’m talking about the chronic build up of aches and pains of a career. The ones where you get up in the morning and think:
“Man, I hurt so bad, surely no game is worth this much pain”.
If you are cricket tragic you put up with it.
If you are less sure about playing you quietly hang up your spikes feeling ‘old’ even if you are 25 (yep, chronic pain isn’t the exclusive area of the over 30’s. Be afraid).
My knees are a perfect example. I have been keeping wicket for more than 20 summers. Hours of squats, scrambles, dives and shuffles have left visible scars on the outside. They ache every day.
I haven’t retired and I don’t have to put up with unmanageable pain. I can keep playing, enjoying cricket and being able to walk on Monday morning with some simple strategies.
Here is what I do, and if you want to protect your knees you will do the same:
Train your badonkadonk
Everyone loves a good looking bum. Making your butt look like something found in a J’Lo video is also good for your cricket.
Knees don’t like to compensate for weak glute muscles so they complain. It’s not the knee itself that is the problem; it’s that your bum isn’t doing its job when you are moving on the pitch. Don’t blame your bum though. It’s just forgotten what to do with all the sitting around we do these days.
So the answer is to focus on training up the glutes.
Sadly, we can’t do that by just playing cricket (which is something of a nail in the coffin for gym nay-sayers ). So we train deadlift movements in the gym.
Eat your greens (and your fish)
It might seem odd to say but your diet can reduce and prevent pain.
A diet that is low in fruits, vegetables and natural fats sets your body up for pain. Inflammation goes up while bone density and muscle mass goes down. It’s not enough to cause problems that would take you to your doctor, but it is creating an environment in your body where pain can prosper.
And we all know modern diets are high in processed food, low in healthy fats like omega 3 and low in fruits and vegetable.
Simply adding more fish (or other omega 3) and 5-10 portions of fruit and veg a day will help with any pain, knees included.
Give yourself a massage
The job of a massage is to improve the quality of your muscle tissue to restore lost movement caused by knots and inflammation.
Not everyone can afford a massage after every game, but you can buy a reusable foam roller and focus on rolling out your hip flexors, quads, adductors, hip rotators, calf and TFL/ITB to banish pain in the knees and feel a whole lot more like Mr. Soft.
If you can, back this up with a monthly massage from someone trained in sports massage to really dig in and get the fascia healthy.
You can also strength your muscles and tendons by teaching them to better absorb force. If they do it, your knees can relax and hurt less. The simplest way to do this is to do sprint training.
You don’t need to train like you are taking on Usain Bolt in the 100m, but you can do straight-ahead sprints as part of your pre-match and training warm ups. 6 sprints of 10-20 metres with 1-2 minutes rest is an easy way to start and good for your cricket as well as your knees.
As long as you remember you don’t have to put up with chronic pain at any age and take these simple steps you will be on your way to staying healthy and reaching your cricketing dreams.