Cricket injuries are a regular part of the sport. Here’s everything you need to know about them…
Cricket! One of the few things that unites our exceptionally diverse nation! If you want to strike a random conversation with a stranger, there can hardly be a better topic than Indian cricket. After all, it’s the one thing, apart from the politics of course, that every Indian can relate to.
And while there can be points of difference in politics, cricket will always find you on the same page with the other person. Try saying, “Dhoni should not retire yet,” and just watch the other guy go on and on about the heroics of Dhoni and how we have failed him.
Just as cricket is commonplace in India, injuries are commonplace in cricket. This might be a bit surprising, given cricket’s non-contact nature and it’s label as ‘the Gentleman’s game’! However, according to research by John Orchard in National Cricket Centre, Australia in 2016, annually 64% of cricket players get injured per season.
Furthermore, the incidence varied according to the format of the game, as each cricketer faces a different workload in Test matches, 50-over & T20 format. The injury profile is also influenced by the player’s position, for example, fast bowlers have a higher incidence of injury than other players.
Cricket Injuries are generally ‘non-contact’ in nature. There is emerging evidence that most cricketing injuries are a result of overuse and inappropriate workloads. Owing to the massive popularity of the sport and a busy schedule, cricketers are getting fewer and fewer off-season times.
As a result, this is having direct implications on the increasing injury incidence. On the positive side, close monitoring of the training and game workloads can reduce most of the injuries.
Common Cricket Injuries
1. Hamstring strain
Occurs among: Bowlers, fielders and sometimes among batsmen
Duration of recovery: Approximate 1-3 weeks (depending on the severity, chronicity and age)
Famous player with the injury: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2019)
Hamstring strain has occupied the No.1 spot as the most common injury for decades, even among the elite cricketers. The requirements of fast bowling, running between the wickets & fielding are the leading causes of strain to the hamstrings. The incidence is definitely higher in short formats of the game rather than Test cricket.
2. Lumbar stress fractures
Occurs among: Fast bowlers
Duration of recovery: 4-8 weeks in non-operative cases. May take longer in some cases.
Famous player with the injury: Jason Behrendorff
Lumbar stress fractures occur mostly due to the repetitive stresses appearing during fast bowling. This is a severe injury in adolescent fast bowlers. Even lumbar disc degeneration is commonly seen. This injury is also common among the fielders.
3. Lateral epicondylitis/tennis elbow
Occurs among: Batsmen
Duration: 1-3 weeks for pain relief but may take 6-9 months of rehabilitation for full recovery.
Famous player with the injury: Sachin Tendulkar
Lateral epicondylitis/tennis elbow is an injury arising particularly in batsmen due to improper batting biomechanics or improper equipment like a heavy bat. Even the “God of Cricket” Sachin Tendulkar was a victim of this injury.
4. Side strains
Occurs among: Fast Bowlers
Duration of recovery: 4-6 weeks with focused physiotherapy prior to return to sport
Famous player with the injury: James Anderson (2015)
Side strain is an acute tear of the internal oblique muscle. When it occurs, stretching the muscles may be excruciating, making it challenging to move the arm. The strain may later be marked by bruising or swelling. It generally affects the non-bowling arm of pace bowlers. This can be a recurring form of injury. An English pacer was forced out of the coveted 2015 Ashes series due to a side strain injury.
5. Patellar tendinopathy
Occurs among: Fast Bowlers
Duration of recovery: 3 weeks for mild injuries and upto 8 months for severe, chronic injuries.
Famous player with the injury: Nicholas Pooran (2015)
Patellar tendinopathy (or patellar tendonitis or tendinitis as it is commonly known) is an overuse injury resulting from constant higher workloads in fast bowlers. It is also known as Jumper’s Knee.
6. Knee ligament injuries
Occurs among: Fielders, Bowlers
Duration of recovery: 4-8 weeks for mild injury and 6-9 months for post-operative with full rehabilitation before return to sport
Famous player with the injury: Lungi Ngidi (2019)
Fielders very frequently need to run, jump, and dive. If they land inappropriately, it may lead to acute ligament tears in the knees. A loud snap or popping sound precede the injury. Swelling may follow it within 24 hours of the occurrence of the injury. Furthermore, a feeling of looseness is accompanied by the joint. Players may be unable to put weight on the joint.
Also Read | Causes of ACL injuries and how to prevent them
7. Posterior ankle impingement
Occurs among: Bowlers
Duration of recovery: 10-12 weeks with regular physiotherapy sessions
Famous player with the injury: Mitchell Starc (2015)
Posterior ankle impingement causes pain during bowling.
The game is not without its fair share of acute traumatic or contact injuries, which can range from injuries as severe as concussions to hand injuries due to impact. Wicket keepers are more prone to such injuries.
Causes of Cricket Injuries
- Overuse injuries: Cricketers have to perform repetitive sequential movements over a period of time. These movements are highly demanding with a combination of speed, strength, and precision. Therefore, the possibility of injury is very high.
- Sudden Spike: A sudden spike in workloads has been shown to be a significant contributory factor in the recent research.
- Inappropriate equipment: Using the correct sports specific, age-appropriate gears during training and tournament ensures correct loading, enhances performance and reduces injury risk. Practising on an improper surface (ground) with improper footwear can also lead to injuries over a period of time.
- Inadequate protective equipment: Research has shown that the use of proper cricket specific kit and protective gear reduces the chances of direct traumatic injuries.
- Improper throwing, fielding & batting biomechanics: Wrong technique or improper skill practised over a period of time leads to abnormal loading or loading of wrong structures.
- Lack of adequate off-season time due to the ever-increasing popularity of the sport: The number of matches played by a player these days is high. In addition, the level of competition and aggressive playing technique has resulted in increased demand.
Any of the above injuries have the ultimate result of “missed match times”, a thoroughly undesirable situation for any athlete and especially one in a sport as popular as cricket.
Thus, minimizing injuries and quicker recovery is a significant concern of the entire team. Injury prevention is an art that requires comprehensive guidance from coaches, physiotherapists, nutritionists, physicians, and most importantly team members.
Overuse injuries can be prevented and treated to extend the bright cricket career of an athlete. Injury prevention programs should include proper surveillance for injuries, screening of players, adequate monitoring of training, and skilled training for technique and efficient management for return to play after an injury.
Physiotherapy plays an important role in components of injury prevention (PREHAB), Injury rehabilitation, return to play training post-injury and athletic performance enhancement.
PREHAB: Cricket Injuries-specific Prevention Strategies
A PREHAB program works on the principle of ‘prevention is better than cure’! A common causative/ contributory factor for most injuries is inappropriate biomechanics which can be best tackled by your physiotherapist.
Screening of players for already existing postural deviations, muscle tightness & weakness, and improper techniques thus becomes an important step. Video analysis of playing biomechanics, along with a detailed assessment of muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance, is a very helpful tool to identify such minute deviations.
Generally, PREHAB focuses on the correction of muscle imbalances (strengthening of weak muscles & stretching of tight muscles).
REHAB: Cricket Injuries-specific Rehabilitation Strategies
A rehabilitation program will be designed specifically to the player, the injury, and age. The duration of the protocol will vary depending on the severity of the injury. The main long term goal of the program will be to return to play cricket as soon as possible and avoid any re-injury.
The physiotherapists at REHAB STATION are experienced at treating all cricket related injuries and can guide you well in preventing them. They often treat athletes with hamstring strains, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, ACL injuries, back pain, lateral epicondylitis, which are also common in cricketers.
REHAB STATION is a sport and musculoskeletal centric sports physiotherapy lab, situated in the heart of Pune city. The physiotherapists at REHAB STATION are highly qualified and strive to live up to the statement that defines an ideal sports physiotherapist. They aim to spread awareness regarding Preventive Rehabilitation and Long Term Athletic Development. As sports physiotherapists, they can help you prevent injury and overcome the plateau in your performance.