Most bowling injuries fall into two broad categories. Acute injuries and repetitive stress injuries. If you want to bowl to the grave and without pain or injury then you need to understand, as a first line of defense, how to protect yourself.

Although bowling is not often thought of as a risky sport, if you are serious about the game, you had better treat it like you are a pro ball player.

There are a number of acute injuries that can occur while bowling. Dropping the ball on your foot or being hit by stray. Sprains, strains in the legs, arms, shoulders, back, feet and hands. Finger and thumb pulls, sprains and dislocations although uncommon, would be classified as acute. Any injury related to a slip and fall. All of these are the type of injuries that are best prevented by being careful. These injuries generally appear to come on suddenly. There is an “incident” associated with the injury. If there is a lot of blood involved or a concussion, go to the hospital. As a general rule an acute injury that does not require immediate medical attention should be iced.

Repetitive stress injuries or “RSI’s” are very common, they generally develop slowly although they may appear to come on quickly. A bowlers warm up, cool down and form are all critically important when trying to prevent these injuries. With RSI’s they develop over time due to the repetition of movements over and over again. For bowlers RSI’s generally manifest as wrist, elbow and shoulder issues. Inflammation and pain, nerve injuries, increased tension and stiffness, numbness, tingling, weakness are all very possible symptoms of an RSI.

If injured and unable to play comfortably, you should get professional help. You wouldn’t ask the kid that scoops your ice cream about improving the spin on your ball, so why would you ask your friend who is an accountant about your elbow injury? I have had friends and patients who have been advised not to bowl for extended periods of time because of an injury that puts them at risk for permanent impairment. If you love to bowl, this sucks.

Tips on preventing injuries:
1. Warm up with a light ball or by practicing your delivery without a ball.
2. Stretch your wrists, arms, legs and back.
3. Don’t bowl if you can’t walk in a straight line…..Don’t drink too much.
4. If you feel something that doesn’t feel right, take a break and figure it out.
5. Have an expert evaluate your form. Change it if you need to.
6. Ice your aches an pains after you play.
7. Stretch a little after you play.
8. Remember, pain is a sign that something is wrong if you feel it, listen to it. If you don’t feel pain, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, it may mean it hasn’t crossed the pain threshold. Prevention is taking action to preserve your health before you feel bad.