For many of us, the sound of leather on willow means summer is here as the cricket season gets into full swing, especially at school level. Unfortunately, some players start their season to the sound of a busy A&E department after injuring a joint or a muscle.
As well as the risk of impact injuries from a cricket ball, the repetitive nature of the activities associated with the game – short bursts of running, throwing a ball – put particular strains on joints and muscles, especially as cricket is such a long game.
At Petersfield Physio, I see a lot of injuries such as stress fractures, muscle strains, ligament and tendon damage. I think we should be taking the risk of this type of injury much more seriously in this country, particularly for youngsters.
Who is at risk?
Other cricketing countries, such as Australia and South Africa, do take it seriously, and they’ve done a number of studies have been carried out.
These studies have shown that bowlers are the most prone to injury due to the twisting and extending nature of their action. The next most injury-prone group is batsmen, followed by wicketkeepers, who can develop osteoarthritis in the knees.
These studies have raised a number of other interesting findings:
- Most injuries tend to be to the legs, followed by arms, back and core.
- Players are just as likely to pick up an injury playing in a full match, a limited overs game or in a practice session.
- Younger players are more prone to picking up new injuries than older players.
- Older players tend to pick up recurring injuries from the previous season.
- Injuries are mainly in soft tissues – muscles (41.0%), joints (22.2%), tendons (13.2%) and ligaments (6.2%).
So, if you are a teenaged fast bowler, you face a higher risk from an acute injury to the soft tissues in your lower limbs while taking part in matches and practices during the early part of the season.
We’re seeing sporting activity being taken more seriously and cricket is no different; season seems to get longer and practice sessions start earlier in the year. Players don’t have the chance to recover from the previous season before they subject tired joints to more play.
Because of this, I’m seeing many more injuries early on in the season and recurring injuries from the past. This is something that players, but most of all, team coaches should be aware of.
How do we prevent, or reduce the risk of injury, especially to our younger sports players? For a start, pre-season training and fitness should focus on general core strength, balance and flexibility before techniques are practiced.
We also need our coaches to be aware of the early signs of injury and to teach techniques that reduce the wear and tear on joints.
Cricketers also need to take responsibility for their health, being aware of the signs of tiredness, strain and injury and to looking after themselves on the pitch, for example:
- Warming up properly
- Making sure they hydrate themselves
- Wearing well-fitting protective clothing.
Injuries need to be treated properly too: pain relief, healing, decreasing inflammation and returning to normal function. Physiotherapy can be a great help to speeding up recovery, as well as preventing it in the first place.
Although cricket looks like a slow and gentle sport, the demands of the modern game can put a lot of stress on players’ bodies, especially when they are young and still growing. We all need to be aware of the risks and be prepared not to ignore the signs or push people too much. After all, we want young people to grow into mature sportspeople with a lifelong love of the game, and not bad school memories of pain and injury.
If you’d like to know more about how to prevent, or treat, cricketing injuries, then please contact us or ring us on 01730 267645.