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Bowled Over - Common Cricket Injuries

Cricket season is nearly upon us and so it is time to look at what injuries can befall the young cricketer and how to prevent them. To many cricket is a great sport to both watch and participate in and something you can really get into once you learn the rules and regulations. To others, cricket is a slow form of torture, lasting days with very little excitement or drama for a competitive sport. As with all sports there is a risk of injury, especially at the higher levels and Freddie Flintoff is a great example of this, plagued by injuries throughout his career. Certain positions such as fast bowler have been shown to be at greater risk of injury and the most common injuries include the lower back, knees and ankles. A 2005 study for Sport Health showed fast bowlers to be more at risk of injury than other positions such as wicket keeper or batsman and examples such as Steve Harmison and Freddie Flintoff are testament to this. Injuries to the lower back, ankles and knees can be serious and keep you out of the game from weeks to month and so prevention is the key to longevity in cricket. Lower back pain is particularly common in younger fast bowlers and research has indicated this can be due to a number factors including: Reduced bone density following a growth spurt The biomechanical aspects of bowling (how you throw the ball) The repetitive nature of the bowling motion Spinal stress fractures are a common injury in young fast bowlers and can be caused by too much bowling or incorrect technique causing your spine to unnaturally twist, resulting in a bone crack – nasty right?! Rehabilitation for this can be long and physiotherapy works on strengthening deep stomach muscles and vertebrae in the back to support and strengthen your back overall and as always correct technique and a thorough warm up will go a long way in preventing these kinds of injuries. Damage to the knee cartilage can also result due to years of bowling, and pain can develop over time, or suddenly due to a sharp twisting motion. Speaking from experience, torn cartilage isn’t fun and can put you out of action for a good few months while you recover and so prevention is definitely preferable. Strengthening the quadriceps that support and strengthen the knee can prevent cartilage damage through releasing pressure on the knee, and exercises such as lunges, squats and the leg press can both increase your quadriceps strength and prevent knee injuries in the future. Finally, ankle pain is common in the majority of fast bowlers with the injured ankle being the front one that the bowler lands on. Pain can be felt either in the back of the ankle of up the Achilles tendon, and in some cases, surgery may be required to clean out the swollen tissue. In these cases, physiotherapy is required to restore full mobility to the ankle as well as exercises that strengthen not only the ankle but the whole lower leg. So in essence, cricket, as in the case of all competitive sports, can lead to injury and fast bowlers are especially prone to injuries due to the motion of bowling placing so much stress upon various parts of the body. Getting the technique of bowling consistently correct is of crucial importance to reduce the chances of stress fractures or injuries resulting from overuse of the muscles. In addition to this a balanced diet and exercise plan consisting of core strength exercises and flexibility will reduce injury risk and the chances of being the next Freddie Flintoff and damaging pretty much every part of your body in one way or another.