“Lawn Bowls is not a sport, it’s an activity!”
Although I did smile when my daughter declared this to her father when he took up lawn bowls several years ago, I now know this is far from the truth! Working as a physio in a rural community and being a seasoned ‘bowls widow’ I have seen the many positives that bowls has to offer as far as physical fitness (my husband has just fainted). Bowls can be played safely by people of all ages and levels of fitness and is a very popular sport, especially in rural areas as it offers a great social outlet as well as exercise.
People that play regularly can see benefits in many areas including
• Upper and lower limb strength and endurance – especially for the quads and glutes!
• Joint flexibility – hips, knees, shoulders
• Balance and coordination (before the post-game ‘refreshments’)
Although bowls does not place a high cardiovascular demand on the body, long periods weight bearing, lunging to deliver the bowls, bending to retrieve them (often out of the gutter!) and stepping up and down off the bank are all movements that are repeated many times during a day on the green. This may cause hip, knee, and lower back pain if you’re not well prepared.
Like any sport, people who want to bowl well and consistently should consider a ‘pre-season’ fitness program to prepare their bodies for competition. Nobody likes to get off to a slow or rusty start at the beginning of the season, or be injured half way through – once you’re on the bottom of the pennant ladder it’s tough to get to the top!
Here are a few simple bowls appropriate pre and post- game stretches.
• Stretch to the point of resistance – never pain.
• Hold the stretch steady for 15 + seconds, release slowly
• Repeat on each side 3x
Eight stretches to warm up for Lawn Bowls
Stretch #1: Shoulder/Chest stretch Interlock fingers, hands behind back, palms facing body, elbows extended, lift arms away from body.
Stretch #2: Shoulder Stretch Interlock fingers, push palms away from chest at shoulder height
Stretch #3: Calf Stretch One foot forward, feet parallel, back leg straight, front leg bent, heels down. Lean forward.
Stretch #4: Quads Stretch Hold on to wall or table. Bend the opposite knee, hold ankle or cuff and gently bring foot backwards towards your backside.
Stretch #5: Hamstrings Place heel on a low step (the bank). Other knee slightly bent. Front knee straight, back straight Lean forward.
Stretch #6: Lower Back Hands on small of back, knees straight, lean back slowly.
Stretch #7: Upper Back Stretch Seated, arms across chest, turn gently.
For further information, download the Fact Sheet from Sports Medicine Australia at: http://sma.org.au/resources-advice/sports-fact-sheets/lawn-bowls