The Pro Bowling Association (PBA) recently hosted the annual Tournament of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana. The event, held from March 26-March 30, was won by Pete Weber. Weber is among the most popular and successful active professional bowlers, having won 37 PBA Tour events. Due to a lingering wrist injury, bowler Brad Angelo withdrew from the Tournament of Champions. Angelo began the Tour season ranked 35th and has missed several events because of this injury.
At amateur and professional levels, using wrist guards and proper bowling technique are the best ways to minimize potential for wrist injuries. Bowling balls can weigh up to 16 pounds, and an average game can include 20+ throws. Most pro bowlers use a 16-pound ball, but a good rule of thumb is that your ball should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight, up to 16 pounds.
Many bowlers wear a wrist brace as an injury precaution, and because a brace can help them use proper technique on every shot. Bowling is a game of repetitive movements and consistent swing and release is important to success. Wearing a wrist brace can help ‘lock-in’ the proper form and technique. Some bowlers do not wear a wrist brace because the most successful technique for them involves a wrist position that the rigidity of the brace does not allow. Caution should be exercised when going brace-less, so that the wrist will stay healthy without the added support of a brace.
Some common bowling injuries include bowler’s elbow, herniated discs, and sprained fingers. In the wrist, tendinitis is a common occurrence in beginners and other bowlers who experience a change in their normal playing conditions (increased frequency, heavier ball, etc). Wrist tendinitis is inflammation in the wrist joint, often accompanied by soreness and decreased range of motion.
Rehabilitation for wrist tendinitis mostly includes several weeks of rest, including avoiding the bowling alley. Most wrist injuries of this nature will respond positively to rest, and not need additional treatment. Wearing a brace or splint can help to limit movement while the wrist is in the initial stages of recovery. Some simple strengthening exercises may also be helpful: wrist extension, flexion, and radial deviation with light resistance.
More serious bowling wrist injuries can include damage to ligaments, tendons, and nerves. In the case of any soreness or acute injury, see a medical professional to receive accurate diagnosis and treatment for the injury.