A Fast Bowler's Guide to Prehabilitation

  • September 19,2017

With Cricket season fast approaching, it is important to get match fit to ensure your body is ready with some sound prehabilitation.

Why prehab?

Whilst Cricket is primarily a non-contact sport, players of all levels need to be warm-up conscious leading up to the season. Recent studies have shown that the primary cause of injury among cricketers is due to a rapid change in work load leading up to and during the season as opposed to a gradual increase in activity 1. Three of the most common injuries among cricketers are: hamstring strains, lumbar stress fractures, and as is common in most overhead sports; sub-acromial impingement 1,2. For fast bowlers specifically; the lower back is a common site of injury. Studies have shown that the incidence of disc injury and bony changes are as high as 65% and 85% respectively among fast bowlers 3.

The factors that seem to be most influential in the development of lower back pain for fast bowlers are a combination of reduced thickness and asymmetrical development of some core musculature 4,5. (reduced thickness of the Multifidus muscle 4. and asymmetry of the obliquus internus abdominis 5.).

How to prehab:

As suggested above, prehab for fast bowlers should include core exercises that target the multifidus and the obliques (note: a more comprehensive prehab regime will incorporate other areas as well as overall fitness and flexibility. For this post we will only be discussing the core).

Below are some simple exercises to help target your obliques and multifidi:

Obliques (in progressive order):

Side bends:

Performed in a standing position slowly curl down one side sliding your hand down your outer thigh as a guide and slowly return to neutral. Aim for 8-12 repetitions and add weight/resistance as necessary.

Hip raises:

Performed in a side lying position with knees bent and elbow underneath your shoulder for support. Slowly raise your hip off the ground, pause and slowly relax back down. It is important to keep your spine from twisting during this exercise, performing this in front of a mirror may help gauge this. Aim for 8-12 repetitions and pause when fatigue sets in to prevent a lapse in form.

Side plank:

A progression from hip raises. Performed in a side lying position with knees straight and your weight on your feet and forearm. Raise your hip up and hold for 30 seconds - 1 minute.

Multifidus (in progressive order):

Cat camel:

Performed in a quadruped position with your weight balanced on your hands and knees evenly. Breath in and allow your lower back to arch and your belly to tuck upwards by tilting your pelvis backward. As you breath out, drop your belly and allow your lower back to extend by tilting your hips forward.

(NOTE: it can be quite difficult to isolate movement primarily in the lumbar spine. If that is the case, practice tilting your pelvis before incorporating further spinal movement - I myself find this difficult to do. For this post I have demonstrated excessive mid back rounding).

Bird dog (leg only):

Performed in the quadruped position with your weight balanced evenly between your hands and knees. Slowly push your leg back allowing it to straighten. Aim to hold this position for 5-10 seconds and switch.

Bird Dog (progression -arms and legs):

Performed in the quadruped position, with weight balanced evenly between your hands and knees. Slowly push your leg back allowing it to straighten while simultaneously raising the opposite arm in front/overhead. Aim to hold this position for 5-10 seconds and switch.

Further info:

A Chiropractic adjustment has shown to help with Multifidus contraction and thickness, particularly for those suffering from acute episodes of low back pain 6,7. If you're a fast bowler heading back into the cricket season and would like more information on how to get your back prepped for the season; contact Mortdale Family Chiropractic today on (02) 8068 4455 or Book Online.


(1) Orchard JW, Blanch P, Paoloni J, et al Cricket fast bowling workload patterns as risk factors for tendon, muscle, bone and joint injuries Br J Sports Med2015;49:1064-1068.

(2) Bruwer, van Dyk, Gous. Ultrasound comparison of the effects of prehabilitation exercises and the scapular assistance test on the acromiohumeral distance. 2016. Available at:http://hdl.handle.net/10210/93399.

(3) Arora M, Paoloni JA, Kandwal P, Diwan AD. Are Fast-Bowlers Prone to Back Injuries? Prevalence of Lumbar Spine Injuries in Fast-Bowlers: Review of MRI-Based Studies. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2014;5(4):e24291. doi:10.5812/asjsm.24291.

(4) Effect of stabilization training on multifidus muscle cross-sectional area among young elite cricketers with low back pain.Hides JA, Stanton WR, McMahon S, Sims K, Richardson CA.J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008 Mar;38(3):101-8. doi:10.2519/jospt.2008.2658. Epub 2007 Dec 7.

(5) Symmetry, not asymmetry, of abdominal muscle morphology is associated with low back pain in cricket fast bowlers.Gray J, Aginsky KD, Derman W, Vaughan CL, Hodges PW.J Sci Med Sport. 2016 Mar;19(3):222-226. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2015.04.009. Epub 2015 Apr 23.PMID:26059231.

(6) Association between changes in abdominal and lumbar multifidus muscle thickness and clinical improvement after spinal manipulation. Koppenhaver SL, Fritz JM, Hebert JJ, Kawchuk GN, Childs JD, Parent EC, Gill NW, Teyhen DS.J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Jun;41(6):389-99. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2011.3632. Epub 2011 Apr 6.PMID: 21471653.

(7) Koppenhaver SL, Fritz JM, Hebert JJ, et al. Association between history and physical examination factors and change in lumbar multifidus muscle thickness after spinal manipulation in patients with low back pain. Journal of electromyography and kinesiology : official journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology. 2012;22(5):724-731. doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.03.004.