Why does Junior Cricket have Bowling Restrictions?

Why does junior cricket have bowling restrictions? 

Have you ever wondered why there are bowling restrictions in junior cricket?

For a number of years cricket Australia has implemented guidelines for the amount of overs / balls junior cricket players should bowl. The aim of this is to reduce the risk of overuse injuries in our young cricketers, the most prevalent being lumbar spine stress fractures. 

What are the bowling recommendations?

Cricket Australia performs a review of the bowling recommendations every year. The guidelines for the 2019/20 season can be seen in the following graphic from Cricket Australia. For a more detailed look at the guielines the full document can be downloaded from our website : https://www.canobolaskidsphysio.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Cricket-Australia-Junior-Bowling-Guidelines.pdf

What is a Lumbar Stress Fracture and why do they occur with bowling?

Spondylolysis is the term used to describe a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis of a vertebrae. The pars interarticularis is the part of the vertebrae located between the superior and inferior articular processes of the facet joints. 

A stress fracture of the pars interarticularis occurs when there is repetitive extension, rotation and  lateral flexion of the lumbar spine. This can occur with fast bowling, particularly with certain bowling techniques.

What are the risk factors for a lumbar stress fracture?

  • Age: Highest risk 16-18 years of age, but have an increased risk from 14 – 25 years old. 
  • Bowling load: A rapid increase in bowling load, total number of balls bowled and a lack of rest days. 
  • Bowling action: 
  • Mixed bowling actions have the highest risk for lumbar stress fractures. In a mixed bowling action during the delivery stride the lead shoulder and the lead knee are moving in opposite directions.

  • Contra lateral side bend during the release phase.

What are they Symptoms of a Lumbar Stress fracture?

  • Pain in the lower back on the opposite side to the bowling arm, this may radiate down in the back of the hip on this side. 
  • Pain is aggravated by bowling and other forms of physical activity and improves with rest. 

How are Lumbar Stress Fracture Managed?

  • The most important part of management for a stress fracture is rest to allow the healing process to take place, this can mean up to 3 – 6 months of rest from bowling. 
  • All athletes with a lumbar stress fractures should have input from a sports doctor to monitor the injury and ensure the appropriate treatment pathway is being followed.  
  • The Young athlete needs an assessment from an experienced physiotherapist to determine if the are any underlying strength or mobility limitations that have contributed to the stress fracture developing and help guide the athlete back to bowling. 
  • It is a good idea to work with an experienced bowling coach when returning to bowl to work on technique and address any issues as described above.