Cricketers, Pilates and Back Pain Stretches
Pilates provides key benefits for both batsmen and bowlers, which is why many top cricketers use it. This is because the aim of the batsman in cricket is to spend long periods at the crease. This necessitates standing in an unnatural stance that requires forward flexion of the spine. It is hardly surprising that many batsmen have succumbed to back injuries. Pilates can help with this problem by providing specific back pain stretches.
Cricketers Who Used Pilates
Mike Atherton, the former England captain, was one. Atherton swore by Pilates – as a way both to recover from injuries and to prevent future ones. Graham Thorpe, another England batsman, has also used Pilates to overcome serious back problems.
How Pilates Helps Cricketers
The aim of the bowler is: to propel the ball at extreme speed, or to use the angle of the body to create swing, or to employ the shoulders and wrist to impart spin. All bowling actions demand smoothness, economy, rhythm and balance. They also require accurate alignment to enable the body to withstand the force of landing on the front foot and rotating through the spine.
Bowling coaches are particularly concerned to eliminate the ‘mixed action’, in which the feet point in one direction (for example, side-on to the wicket) and the upper body in a different one (for example, facing the batsman). Heeding the maxim: ‘Keep the hips and shoulders in line and you’ll be fine; twist the back and it will crack!’, a good Pilates teacher can devise a set of exercises to help a bowler become aware of what this alignment feels like. Practising the exercises before going out to bowl will enhance ‘muscle memory’.
The Australian fast-bowling attack, long rated the world’s best, uses Pilates to strengthen the area between the hip and shoulders, as part of injury prevention conditioning. Andrew Flintoff, England fast bowler, took up daily Pilates to solve his back problems, on the advice of Mike Atherton. Flintoff took the advice and was soon back to fitness and form.
‘Aspects of Pilates are used in our training all the time, Nigel Stockill, head physiologist and biomechanist for the England Cricket Board, recently told the press. Pilates, he added, was particularly beneficial to cricketers because it helped them to recover faster from sports injuries and had a strong focus on the abdominal muscles and back.
Both amateur and professional cricketers can contact us to find out more about our classes. We look forward to speaking with you!