This is part two of a series of tips that are often overlooked by traditional cricket coaches. All are proven to give you the edge but because they don't originate in the cricket world have not been picked up by the mainstream of players yet. That's why we are calling the series "training secrets". This secret is about how to protect your throwing and bowling shoulder.
Cricket is not exactly kind on the shoulder. All that bowling and throwing. Why do you think so many players in your team have beaten up shoulders?
Fortunately, cricket is not the only 'overhead' sport and we can use research from tennis, baseball and volleyball to help prevent shoulder injuries in bowlers and fielders. It's not like your shoulder can tell what you are doing, it's just responding to stimulus.
Here are 4 rules to help keep your shoulder healthy.
1. Stick to your limits
Strength training is the best way to help prevent shoulder injuries. A strong shoulder is a healthy shoulder. But it's also important to know where your limits are when it comes to training.
The shoulder joint is capable of a lot of movements: retraction, protraction, elevation, depression and rotation. And every shoulder joint is different. Sometimes it just plain hurts to press a weight over your head or perform an upright row.
So the rule is simple: If it hurts, don't do it.
There are plenty of ways to strengthen your shoulder without doing exercises that hurt.
Logically, this also applies to bowling and throwing. Use pain as a message you need to take a rest and see a doctor or physio.
2. Work every movement
Not all shoulder training is about lifting heavy weights. The scapula bone of the shoulder is moved around by a number of smaller muscles, all need to be made strong. However because they are small they don't need a lot of weight to be worked.
Most important movements and some exercises to keep them strong are:
3. Get moving
Most of us spend a lot of time in bad postural positions: sitting at a desk, driving, playing computer games and watching TV lock us in to bad patterns. We end up with rounded shoulders, hunchbacks and tight hips.
A few hours of cricket and gym work is barely enough to counterbalance the rest of the week's bad positions. In other words, your life might be causing your shoulder problems.
Sadly, we can't all give up a desk job or pack in school to climb trees to solve this problem, but we can make an effort to move more. At least once an hour (and ideally every 15 minutes), get up, stretch out and move for a few minutes. It will put your shoulders in more natural and less injury prone positions.
4. Look at the soft tissue
We talked about foam rolling in detail in part one of this series. The cricketer's shoulder is especially vulnerable to building up scar tissue in the fascia.
You can use a tennis ball to self 'massage' the shoulder capsule area and two tennis balls taped together to improve the mobility of your t-spine (and sort your posture out).
Although none of these 4 tricks will guarantee you a healthy shoulder, they will drastically increase your chances of staying pain and injury free.