Because Bowling is an activity that requires repetitive movements, a bowler can acquire several types of injuries just like in any other sort. Two of the most common are BURSITIS and TENDONITIS. The muscles and tendons that are attached to the bones become inflamed from doing certain movements again and again which can cause severe pain in the shoulder, hip, and knee. It can also affect the elbow more commonly known as "Tennis Elbow".
I have experienced Tennis Elbow several times during my 45+ years of bowling and it's no fun. I had to buy a brace at the local pharmacy that slipped on my bowling arm just below the elbow which kept the muscle from extending too much so the healing process could start. I still keep it in my bowling bag to this day in case I feel any pain coming on in that area and then I can just slip it on to avoid it getting any worse. If you experience any pain while you are bowling, they do have ice in the bowling center as well as first aid kits. Follow up with more ice when you get home because early and proper treatment will help to heal the sore area more quickly allowing you to get back in the game.
If your pain ever becomes severe, see your doctor and try to rest the arm whenever possible. Use the opposite arm to do easy things until the pain lessens. You may have to skip a week or two in the league. Don't push yourself or you may likely make things worse and have to be absent more than just one or two weeks!
The best advice in helping to prevent some of these injuries is to do some mild stretching before bowling as previously mentioned in earlier blog posts. Having a regular exercise regimen will also help keep your joints strong and flexible.
For new bowlers, throwing the ball improperly, bowling too many games at once, or having bad form on the lanes, can result in other injuries like HITTING YOUR LEG, or KNEE. Hopefully it doesn't occur too often. If it does, have a friend come to watch you bowl during a practice session or ask a family member to film you so you can see what may be happening. You may even want to take a few lessons with a coach as soon as you are able or you'll definitely end up with soreness or a serious injury. If hitting your ANKLE is a problem, you may be sliding the foot too much to the side. Try sliding more straight towards the foul line so when you release the ball, the ankle isn't too close to the ball as you are releasing it. Get some ice and put it on the ankle as soon as you are able. If it's not an ice bag, but an actual bag of ice, be careful not to let any water drip out so you and other bowlers won't step on the wetness by accident causing you to stick on the lane.
When you are getting ready to bowl, pay attention to what you are doing. I've seen bowlers trying to finish up a conversation on the way to get their ball off the rack. Another ball comes up from the ball return quickly and they had their fingers banged between the balls, OUCH!!!
Occasionally a ball will get stuck in the ball return. So if your ball doesn't come back to the rack, don't panic. Just let someone at the desk know and they will send the mechanic down to retrieve it for you. DO NOT try to do it yourself because it could result in a serious injury.
BLISTERS, CUTS, and SCRAPES are also injuries we can't avoid during our bowling. They can occur from releasing the ball incorrectly, or just from an improperly fitted ball. If the holes are too tight, just find another ball. If it's your own ball, you may need to take it to the pro shop for a minor adjustment. Don't wait, address the issue as soon as you are able.
If you have a cut on your finger, you can use the Nu-Skin product I mentioned in my Blog post from 4/26/21 on Equipment. Don't use a Band Aid because your finger will not fit properly into the ball hole. If you don't have this product yet, please make a trip to the pro shop or buy it online as soon as possible. You can ask a team-mate to borrow some in a pinch because most bowlers keep this item handy in their bowling bag.
More serious injuries can be KNEE and WRIST SPRAINS, and SHOULDER or BACK pain mostly being caused by an improper release of the ball or using too heavy a ball. Remember the ball should be about 10% of your weight unless you're an experienced bowler who can handle 15 or 16 lbs. If you experience any swelling or tenderness in an area, or any bruising then you may have a sprain. Use ice packs on and off throughout the day and maybe lay off bowling for a week or two so you can get the proper rest without having a longer setback. If that's not helping, then go see your doctor. It may be more serious and require anti-inflammatories to help with pain and swelling, or some type of physical therapy depending on the extent of the injury. The pro shop sells hand and wrist supports to protect your wrists. To help avoid shoulder issues, don't have too high of a back swing and don't throw the ball super hard. You don't really need to, to achieve great scores. If you have back pain, try bending more at the knee on the release with the body more upright rather than bending from the waist.
Remember that injuries can occur when playing any sport. That's why I recommend including exercising, stretching, and bowling practices in your weekly routine to help you achieve proper form. Hopefully by doing these things you will be in the lucky percent of people who can remain injury free for the most part.
Join me again next week when I'll be discussing "How to make a Ten Pin".
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
Hello!! My name is Joanie. Although I'm not a professional bowler, I have loved the sport for more than 45 years, averaged over 200 for several seasons, and learned quite a bit with research and experience.