Common Cricket Injuries & How to Prevent Them
With the hope of drier and warmer weather here in the U.K we see the cricket season starting to pick up and if you play the sport you will know that keeping fit and preventing injuries will help keep you off the side-lines.
Whether you are a batter, bowler or both, every cricket player is at risk of injury, but thankfully due to continued research and development of sports medicine products there are several ways to help prevent and treat injuries keeping you at peak performance and in the game all season.
As with many sports cricket injuries can be categorised as acute or chronic. Acute injuries occur instantly, such as being struck by a ball, whilst chronic injuries occur over time due to overuse or poor technique.
Rotator cuff injuries
All cricketers are at risk of rotator cuff injuries which occurs when any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder tear.
These muscles aid in stabilising the shoulder joint, so any damage is likely to make various motions very painful, such as batting or bowling.
A lack of flexibility can cause you to suffer a rotator cuff injury, but you can easily improve this through exercises such as pilates or yoga which is also great for balance, posture, circulation and improving range of motion at each joint (Sharma, 2015, Makker, 2013).
Medial meniscus tear
The medial meniscus is an area of cartilage located at the top of the tibia bone in your lower leg, which helps to protect the knee joint from the stress of running, walking and bending.
A meniscus tear can happen as you turn quickly to run, making it an acute injury, but it can also occur slowly over time as a chronic issue.
Studies have shown that wearing a knee brace/support can significantly reduce the risk of a meniscus tear by providing a 20-30% greater resistance to stress applied to the knee joint (S Najibi, JP Albright, 2005, JP Albright et al. 1994, M Sitler et al. 1990)
Like the knees, ankles are put under a lot of strain during cricket as the lower body is under increased stress due to sudden changes in direction, sprinting and jumping.
Ankle sprains refer to damaged ligaments and soft tissue which often happen when the ankle twists inwards. Studies conducted on elite and recreational athletes concludes that wearing an ankle brace can help to reduce the risk of an ankle sprain by 70% (JMR. Dizon & JJB. Reyes, 2010).
Being struck by a ball is one of the main risks associated with cricket and contusions are muscle injuries caused by impact. Most players will experience swelling, bruising and even loss of mobility in the muscle when this happens. Contusions are ranked from Grade 1 to Grade 3; the severity of the injury will depend on the speed at which the ball was thrown. A Grade 3 injury may require the players to take time out of the sport for physiotherapy. It can be extremely dangerous to be hit by a cricket ball on the eye or head, so players do have to be careful to avoid this kind of injury. To control pain and inflammation the RICE; rest, ice, compression and elevation method is advised – in extreme cases players may need physiotherapy.
Thrower’s elbow (same condition as golfer’s elbow) is caused by gradual overuse which damages the tendon of the wrist flexor muscles causing pain on the inside of the elbow. Hot and cold therapy can be beneficial in easing the pain caused, however there are several ways to reduce the risk of throwers elbow. Firstly, ensuring you follow a thorough warm up routine will reduce tightness and stiffness in the tendons, secondly strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the forearm and wrist and thirdly improving the range of motion around the joints is crucial, activities such as yoga or pilates are a great way to improve flexibility (Sharma, 2015, Makker, 2013).
Swimmer’s shoulder is a common injury among bowlers due to the repetitive bowling motion used, it is an injury caused by the tendons of the rotary cuff ‘catching’ in the shoulder. Pain is felt when the tendons become trapped in the space at the top of the shoulder and repeatedly scrape against the bone when the arm is raised. To control pain and inflammation the RICE; rest, ice, compression and elevation method is advised – increasing flexibility and resting will help in the prevention of swimmer’s shoulder (Sharma, 2015, Makker, 2013).
Lower back pain
General lower back pain is another common cricketing injury, but it can be difficult to diagnose as there are so many structures and tissues in this area. Chronic lower back pain is often the result of pain at the sacroiliac joints which are located at the bottom and either side of the back. Adding yoga into your fitness routine can help to stretch muscles and aids with overall recovery from heavy training or match session (Sharma, 2015, Makker, 2013). If in doubt about an injury always seek medical advice from your local GP.
G. Makker, Effect of Selected Asanas on the Flexibility of Ranji Level Wicket Keepers in Cricket. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications 2013; 3 (12) 2250-3153
JMR. Dizon & JJB. Reyes, A Systematic Review on the Effectiveness of External Ankle Supports in the Prevention of Inversion Ankle Sprains Among Elite and Recreational Players 2010; 13 (3):309-317
JP. Albright et al. Medial collateral ligament knee sprains in college football. Brace wear preferences and injury risk. Am J Sports Med 1994;22(1):2–11.
JP. Albright et al. Medial collateral ligament knee sprains in college football. Effectiveness of preventive braces. Am J Sports Med 1994;22(1):12–8.
L. Sharma, Benefits of Yoga in Sports – A Study, International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health 2015; 1 (3) 30-32
M. Sitler et al. The efficacy of a prophylactic knee brace to reduce knee injuries in football. A prospective, randomized study at West Point. Am J Sports Med 1990;18(3):310–5.
S Najibi, JP. Albright, The use of knee braces, part 1: prophylactic knee braces in contact sports. Am J Sports Med 2005;33(4):602–11.