I developed BATEX to train cricketers to run between the wickets faster over the period of scoring a hundred and to learn what is mentally required to score big hundreds – or to coin the phrase of England cricket's batting coach Graham Gooch: 'Big Daddy hundreds'. But this week's blog is about being able to run faster for much longer than 2-3 hours of batting...How do you ensure that you can run fast between the wickets throughout your whole cricket career?
In recent years, Dr John Orchard has observed that thigh and hamstrings injuries are the most common in elite cricketers - averaging over 4 per team every season. For example, note Australia's Shane Watson and his hamstring injury this week. Hamstring injuries usually occur when sprinting and the muscle is lengthening as it contracts (known as an eccentric contraction). These eccentric contractions occur as the hamstrings slow the forward motion of the knee in order to initiate leg recoil.
Well I don't have an anti-aging pill but I do have an injury prevention exercise to reduce the risk of you injuring you hamstrings. The exercise is called 'Nordics' and it increases eccentric strength of the hamstrings. It's one of my favourites!
Take a look at the video. (link here if doesn't work)
Here are some technical tips:
• Make sure you're warmed up.
• Make sure you have some thick matting to fall on to.
• Get a partner to firmly hold your ankles.
• Keep your hands on your hips ready to brace your fall.
• Think of keeping a straight line through shoulders, hips and knees: 'rocket straight'.
• Start lowering your upper body to the ground as slow and controlled as possible – you'll feel your hamstrings working hard: lengthening but still contracting.
This is a tough exercise so expect to experience delayed muscle soreness in your hamstrings for 1-3 days after doing them for the first time. As a starter perform 5 repetitions, take a minute break and complete 5 more Nordics. Add this into your program once a week. You can purchase my injury prevention program for cricketers at the PitchVision online cricket academy.
Nordics will help increase the length of the muscle and tendon unit within the hamstrings and also increase your range of motion (flexibility). Both of these improvements will contribute to decreased risk of hamstring injury. In fact, Dr Petersen and his colleagues (Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Copenhagen) observed the effects of a Nordic exercise program during 10 weeks of soccer preseason and then a maintenance program during the season (942 pro/amateur soccer players, average age 23). They found a 60% reduction in new hamstring injuries and an 85% reduction in rate of recurring hamstring injuries across a football season.
So this week's top tip: take time this week to prepare yourself to run fast between the wickets for longer - intergrate Nordics into your weekly program!
by Laurence Houghton, PhD MSc BSc (Hon)
Creator of the BATEX cricket fitness phone apps @ www.batexbattingtips.com