Objectives: To investigate spinal kinematics, tibial and sacral impacts during fast bowling, among bowlers with a history of low back pain (LBP) (retrospective) and bowlers who developed LBP in the follow-up season (prospective).
Methods: 35 elite male fast bowlers; senior (n=14; age=24.1±4.3 years; height=1.89±0.05 m; weight=89.2±4.6 kg) and junior (n=21; age=16.9±0.7; height=1.81±0.05; weight=73.0±9.2 kg) were recruited from professional county cricket clubs. LBP history was gathered by questionnaire and development of LBP was monitored for the follow-up season. Spinal kinematics, tibial and sacral impacts were captured using inertial measurement units placed over S1, L1, T1 and anteromedial tibia. Bonferroni corrected pairwise comparisons and effect sizes were calculated to investigate differences in retrospective and prospective LBP groups.
Results: Approximately 38% of juniors (n=8) and 57% of seniors (n=8) reported a history of LBP. No differences were evident in spinal kinematics or impacts between those with LBP history and those without for seniors and juniors. Large effect sizes suggest greater rotation during wind-up (d=1.3) and faster time-to-peak tibial impacts (d=1.5) in those with no history of LBP. One junior (5%) and four (29%) seniors developed LBP. No differences were evident in spinal kinematics or impacts between those who developed LBP and those who did not for seniors. In seniors, those who developed LBP had lower tibial impacts (d=1.3) and greater lumbar extension (d=1.9) during delivery.
Conclusion: Retrospective analysis displayed non-significant differences in kinematics and impacts. It is unclear if these are adaptive or impairments. Prospective analysis demonstrated large effect sizes for lumbar extension during bowling suggesting a target for future coaching interventions.