Does Bowling Make You Sore? ( Find Out Here)

Can bowling make you sore? Indeed, bowling is not an overly intensive sport. However, it would be best if you still had conditioned muscles and endurance once you stepped on the lane. 

Bowling causes sore muscles due to the force exerted in gaining momentum and throwing the ball. Bowlers knowledgeable about the proper game practices may only experience mild soreness. The soreness can worsen if you are not practicing good stance.

This article will discuss the factors that cause soreness in bowlers. We will also provide some ideas to relieve and prevent muscle pain after a game. 

Can Bowling Make You Sore?

Bowling allows you to move your body, from your legs to your back muscles and arms. A bowling ball may also be a free weight since it is heavy. Therefore, this sport is a great way to stretch your muscles and do some recreation.

But while bowling looks easier than other sports, it can cause more than exhaustion if you need to know the proper body preparation before a game. So, can bowling make you sore without warm-ups and an appropriate way of playing?

Does Bowling Cause Muscle Soreness?

Bowling involves repetitively moving your body to throw heavy balls into a long bowling lane. The ball’s weight alone can put pressure on your shoulder, arm, wrist, and fingers. Once you throw the ball, its weight also stretches and twists your muscles and tendons.

You must bend your legs and back when positioning during a throw. These movements go on for an entire game, lasting for a couple of hours. 

The repetitive motions you do when bowling take a toll on your body. Whether physically fit or not, throwing a 16-pound ball multiple times can make your muscles sore and painful after the game. However, people not knowledgeable about proper muscle stretching and bowling stance may experience more soreness than regular bowlers. 

Muscle Soreness In New Bowlers

If you are new to bowling, incorrect posture and movements can overuse your muscles. The soreness can be worse if your muscles are accustomed to strain. For instance, you must forcefully extend your thighs during a bowling approach. These forceful movements cause pressure on your hips and legs, thus causing pain. 

Since a new bowler has untrained muscles, bowling can wreak havoc on their body. The soreness after games will continue until their muscles become accustomed to bowling. 

Knowing proper bowling forms and movements can prevent overstretching your muscles, reducing the soreness you may feel after bowling. But one thing is for sure — bowling can cause muscle pain regardless if you are a regular bowler or new to the sport. (source)

What Muscles Are Used When Bowling?

  • Arm Muscles
  • Thighs And Glutes
  • Foot And Ankle

Bowling may look like a simple sport, but it involves using the upper muscles in one’s body. Holding a heavy bowling ball stretches your hand, wrist, thumb, and fingers. When delivering the ball, your arm and shoulder exert effort. 

However, the upper body muscles are not the only ones that move when bowling. Below are the muscles that move when you play bowling:

Arm Muscles

The muscles in your arm are the significant receivers of stress and pressure when bowling. To be more specific, your fingers and thumb stretch forcefully in every throw. Your arms and shoulders also receive the same strain.

On the other hand, your wrist and elbow repeatedly twist when gripping and throwing the ball. After multiple ball deliveries, you may feel tingling in these muscles. Once you experience this sensation, taking a break from the game is essential. The reason is that forcing your body to play when it starts to become sore can lead to injuries.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent arm muscles from experiencing too much soreness. Exercises focusing on your wrist, elbows, arms, and shoulders can strengthen your muscles. As a result, you will feel less pain, if not no pain at all, after playing an entire bowling game.

Thighs And Glutes

Every shot in bowling requires the use of thighs and glutes. You need to stretch your leg to the back when getting into your stance. This way, you can achieve a low position and make a smooth shot. 

But while this movement is the key to a good bowl, it also causes pressure on your thighs and glutes. If you’ve ever felt difficulty walking after bowling, it is a sign that your leg muscles received more stress than they could handle. 

After bowling, you can prevent thigh and glute soreness by exercising your lower body extremities regularly. The best exercise you can perform is lunges, as they imitate your movements during ball delivery in bowling. Lunges target your thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. 

Foot And Ankle

Proper footwork is crucial in bowling. Your foot and ankle twist during an approach, which causes your tendons and joints to stretch and overwork. Such is especially true if you need to perform the approach properly. 

If you are new to bowling and still practicing the proper bowling approach, there is a chance that you will angle your foot incorrectly when making shots. The incorrect footwork may cause your tendons to swell, resulting in foot and ankle soreness. 

The best way to prevent soreness on your foot and ankle is to wear a good pair of bowling shoes. Bowling shoes keep your feet comfortable during games, allowing you to prevent soreness. The shoes also help bowlers slide properly when approaching the foul line, thanks to the bowling-specific design of their soles. (source)

Major Causes Of Muscle Soreness After Bowling

  • Incorrect Bowling Technique
  • Lack Of Warm-Up Exercises Before A Game
  • Improper Bowling Ball Weight And Fit
  • Uncomfortable Bowling Shoes

The game alone is not the sole cause of muscle soreness when you are bowling. Instead, other factors affect your bowling muscles and cause them to become painful after a game. 

Incorrect Bowling Technique

Bowling technique is vital for getting good scores. However, knowing the proper bowling technique does not only affect your game. It also contributes to how much soreness your muscles will experience.

Suppose you are not paying attention to your bowling technique. In that case, you will need your muscles to exert more effort and compensate for the lack of proper form and ball delivery. The force you will apply to your approach and throws will increase, which can result in twisted joints and pulled muscles. 

Lack Of Warm-Up Exercises Before A Game

Warm-up exercises are vital to conditioning your muscles before a bowling game. This way, your muscles are already “awake” once the fun begins. Warm-up stretches also increase your breathing level and heart rate to a point where they can meet the demands of the activity.

Failing to perform warm-up exercises makes your body more prone to cramps, injuries, and soreness. It will also stress your heart and respiration by forcing them to provide the blood flow and oxygen you need once you bowl. 

Improper Bowling Ball Weight And Fit

Bowling balls are heavy. However, you cannot randomly pick a ball and use it to throw a shot. Instead, the right bowling ball for you to use should be 10 percent of your total body weight. 

If the ball you use is too heavy for your body weight, it can forcefully pull your arm muscles. The force can cause your arm to swell, making it painful to move after a bowling session. 

Moreover, the incorrectly sized thumb and finger holes can cause soreness in your fingers. If the bowling ball’s holes are too fit, they will cause pressure on your fingers, leading to soreness and potential injuries. 

Uncomfortable Bowling Shoes

Wearing bowling shoes is more than just providing comfort for your feet. Bowling shoes help you control your movements on slippery lanes. If you need to slide, your bowling shoes have sliding soles. There is also a leather portion on the soles that helps you stop from sliding. 

Since the soles of your bowling shoes aid your movement, you do not have to exert much force in sliding and gaining traction during an approach. This role of the shoes prevents you from twisting your ankles forcefully, allowing you to avoid foot and ankle soreness.

When your bowling shoes do not fit well, they will fail to prevent soreness. Even worse, the shoes’ ability to prevent injuries decreases. (source)

Preventing Extreme Soreness From Bowling

  • Take A Walk
  • Loosen Your Arm Muscles
  • Keep Yourself Hydrated
  • Perform Cool Down Exercises After Bowling

Bowling can inevitably cause muscle soreness. However, there are things you can do to alleviate the pain you will feel after the game.

Take A Walk

Your legs are essential when bowling as you use them to create momentum during shots. For this reason, your leg muscles must be strong enough to endure fatigue. Strengthening your legs will prevent them from experiencing too much soreness after bowling.

Leg exercises do not have to be difficult for them to be effective. Regular walking makes you get your leg muscles in shape, making them less susceptible to soreness. Increase the distance you walk to make your muscles gain more strength. However, it is crucial to increase the distance gradually to avoid forcing your leg muscles to work. 

Loosen Your Arm Muscles

It is ideal for warming your arms an hour before a bowling game. Warm-up exercises like stretching will loosen up your arm muscles, preventing the heaviness of the ball from stretching them all at once. Simple exercises before a bowling game will also help you throw accurate shots. 

You can also exercise your arms even on ordinary days and when you do not have a game to participate in. This way, you can prevent muscle tightness, making it easier to prepare yourself during a game. (source)

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Once the bowling game is already taking place, it is vital to keep yourself hydrated. True enough, bowling does not make you sweat as other games do. However, constant powerful movements require keeping yourself hydrated. This way, fluids flow throughout your body, preventing soreness from causing too much pain. 

Keeping your body hydrated also aids in muscle recovery. So, if your muscles are sore from bowling, drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily can help ease the pain quickly.

Perform Cool Down Exercises After Bowling

Cool-down exercises after bowling allow you to bring your body to rest gradually. This way, you can help your adrenaline, temperature, and breathing return to normal. Cooling down also prevents injuries and speeds up muscle recovery. 

Moreover, the powerful movements you do when bowling causes a lactic acid build-up in your body. Lactic acid makes muscles susceptible to stiffness and cramping. By cooling down, you release these lactic acids, preventing soreness from occurring. (source)

How To Reduce Muscle Soreness Caused By Bowling

  • Cold Compress
  • Heat Pack
  • Over-The-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medications
  • Massage
  • Compression Garments

Stretching is the primary way to alleviate muscle soreness. However, there are other methods you can do to reduce the tension in your muscles.

Cold Compress

An ice pack is helpful if you notice swelling along with muscle soreness. The coldness from the ice pack can reduce muscle, joint, and nerve swelling. This pain relief is also ideal if you have a minor joint injury caused by bowling. However, do not apply ice directly to your skin, as it can cause your veins to constrict, resulting in reduced blood flow. 

You can try soaking in a cold bath if you feel like all your major muscles need a cold compress. 

Heat Pack

Delayed onset muscle soreness is common in bowlers. While you may not experience pain right after a game, muscle pain can occur after a few days. For this reason, applying a heat pack on areas of your body that receive the most stress is vital. This way, you can reduce the pain caused by soreness once it sets. 

A warm shower is also helpful after a bowling game. Warm baths can increase your body’s temperature, thus increasing blood flow. As a result, more oxygen can get to your muscles, helping them to heal quickly. 

But you should never apply a heat pack on swollen muscles and joints. According to sports medicine specialist Dr. Michael Behr, heat helps reduce the stiffness of joints and muscles. However, it can also open blood vessels, causing inflammation to worsen.

Over-The-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-inflammatory medications help ease discomfort and alleviate the pain caused by muscle soreness. But professionals do not recommend taking these medications every time you feel sore after bowling. The reason is that using anti-inflammatory drugs regularly can reduce the ability of your muscles to self-repair. 

You can try eating antioxidant-rich food if you need something to ease muscle soreness. For instance, a 2017 study found that food high in L-citrulline, a type of amino acid, can reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness. Turmeric is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, it can be an effective pain reliever if you avoid over-the-counter medications.


Getting a massage before the soreness caused by bowling kicks in can relax your muscles. Massage increases blood circulation, which helps muscle fibers heal themselves. As your massage relaxes your muscles, their tightness reduces, thus making soreness less painful.

You can also opt for a self-massage using a foam roller. Foam rolling stretches your muscles gently, which can be a cool-down exercise. It can also relieve fatigue and muscle tightness.

Compression Garments

As mentioned, increasing the blood flowing through your muscles brings more fresh oxygen and helps with a speedy recovery from soreness. Wearing compression garments for an entire day after bowling does the same thing. Tight clothes prevent you from moving your muscles too much. They can also increase blood flow and recovery rate. 

If you do not want to cover your entire body with compression garments, identify the areas that received the most stress while you were bowling. For instance, if you twist and stretch your feet and legs too much, you can wear leggings and socks to compress them. (source)

The Takeaway

Can bowling make you sore? Bowling is a sport that causes stress to your muscles, regardless of whether you are physically fit. But the more you know about proper bowling movements and form, the less muscle soreness you will experience. 

Regular exercises and warm-up stretches before a bowling game can also reduce the stress your muscles will experience. But if you are already feeling muscle soreness caused by bowling, we have also listed the ways to alleviate them above.

We hope this article can help you feel more at ease in your next game. Bowling is a great form of exercise, and taking some measures can aid in reducing the delayed onset muscle soreness this sport can cause. 

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