7 common injuries that keep cricketers on the sidelines

Whether you’re a batter, bowler, or both, you are at risk of injury when playing cricket. Here are seven of the most common injuries to be aware of. 

The arrival of drier and warmer months heralds the start of the cricket season. If you play the sport you’ll know that you need to stay fit to keep hitting boundaries, taking wickets, and preventing the injuries that can keep you on the sidelines. 

There are two types of cricket injuries: acute and chronic. Here we introduce the most common injuries of both types and the treatments available.  

Acute cricket injuries explained

Acute injuries are those that occur instantly, for example when you are struck by a ball or tear a muscle turning quickly. Below are the most common types that cricketers suffer1.

1. Rotator cuff injuries

Both batters and fielders are at risk of rotator cuff injuries which occur when any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder tear. These muscles help to stabilise the shoulder joint, so any damage is likely to make batting and bowling painful. A lack of flexibility can cause the injury, but you can improve this through exercises such as pilates which is also great for balance, posture and circulation2. If you are unlucky enough to experience this injury, one of the treatment options is to undergo rotator cuff surgery.

2. Medial meniscus tear

The medial meniscus is a C-shaped area of cartilage located at the top of the tibia bone in your lower leg. It helps to protect the knee joint from the stress of running, walking and bending, so it is no wonder a torn medial meniscus is a common cricketing injury. It can happen as you turn quickly to run, making it an acute injury, but may also occur slowly over time as a chronic issue. The injury is often accompanied by a pain on the inside of the knee, discomfort when squatting or bending, and sometimes swelling3. A knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) may be needed to diagnose the injury and decide the right treatment.

3. Ankle sprain

Like the knees, the ankles are put under a lot of strain during cricket as the lower body bears the brunt of quick changes in direction, sprinting and jumping. A sprained ankle refers to damaged ligaments and soft tissue which often happen when the ankle twists inwards4. Wearing an ankle brace can help to reduce the injury and the need for ankle surgery in severe cases.

4. Contusions

Contusions are caused by a direct impact to the muscle, mostly likely from being struck by a ball. Swelling or bruising can be expected when this happens, as well as some loss of movement in the muscle depending on how severe the damage is. Contusions are classed depending on how serious they are, starting at Grade 1 and going up to Grade 35. Grade 3 contusions are the most severe and of you suffer this form of injury you might need physiotherapy sessions before you can return to the pitch.

Chronic cricket injuries explained

Chronic cricket injuries happen over time through overuse as actions such as bowling take their toll on the upper body in particular. Here are the most common chronic injuries you could face as a cricketer6.

5. Thrower’s elbow

Thrower’s elbow (which is the same condition as golfer’s elbow) is known as medial epicondylitis to medical professionals. Pain is felt on the inside of the elbow as gradual overuse damages the tendon of the wrist flexor muscles. Ice can help to ease acute pain that may be felt during a match, and heat may be more beneficial when the injury becomes chronic6. Orthopaedic surgery may even be necessary if the issue persists after less invasive treatment7.

6. Swimmer’s shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder, or shoulder impingement syndrome, is an injury caused by the tendons of the rotary cuff ‘catching’ in the shoulder8. Pain is felt when the tendons becomes trapped in the space at the top of the shoulder and repeatedly scrape against the bone when the arm is raised. It’s a common injury among bowlers who repeat this action often in a match and during training. You should apply ice or cold therapy should be applied when you feel pain, and rest is also important to allow the area to heal fully9. This condition can be complex to diagnose, so you may be recommended for a shoulder arthroscopy to get a clear picture of what is happening in the joint.

7. 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 back10. A slipped disc can also lead to discomfort here11, which your osteopath can diagnose.

Cricket may not be a contact sport, but injuries are still common as the various actions that are involved place strain on your body. If a persistent injury causes difficulty walking or completing everyday activities, you may wish to attend one of our sports injury clinics to talk about the treatment you need to return to fitness.

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