With the start of the 2017/2018 Ashes tour and the cricket season well underway, this week’s blog will be discussing cricket related injuries.
Although cricket is a non-contact sport, injuries do occur and given the complexity of the sport they often can be difficult to manage. It is not a surprise that fast bowlers have the highest injury prevalence of 20%. This is followed by spin bowlers, batsmen then wicketkeepers.
The combination of the high physical demands on the body and the repetitiveness of the sport is unfortunately a recipe for injury. However, with adequate preparation and coaching the risk of injuries can significantly be reduced.
Below are a few common cricket related injuries:
Low Back Pain
Episodes of low back pain in cricketers is extremely common. Low back pain does not discriminate to just fast bowlers and can often occur in batters, wicketkeepers or sustained whilst fielding.
Pain from the lower back can come from a number of different sources ranging from joint and muscle strains/sprains to the dreaded lumbar spine stress fracture we hear so much about. Pain can come from an acute incident such as in the action of bowling a ball or can come from an overload/training error such as bowling too many balls in a short period of time.
Initially, it is advised to rest from activities (eg Bowling, batting) that exacerbate the lower back until you consult with your physio. It is however important to keep moving and exercising. So continuing with activities that do not exacerbate your pain is encouraged. Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and pain relief medication can play an important role in early management of low back pain, however consult your GP beforehand.
Your Physio will perform a thorough assessment to determine the source of your pain. After this they will take you through a comprehensive management plan to assist in your rehabilitation. Throughout your rehabilitation, risk factors that may increase your risk of re-injury will be screened for. This includes strength and mobility deficits, technique flaws and load monitoring.
One of the most common injuries in cricket and is often seen in the calf and hamstrings which have an incident rate of approximately 18 %. Interestingly, over the last decade muscles strains have become more common amongst cricketers. This is presumably due to the increased workload with the addition of T-20 cricket and the higher physical demands of the sport.
Another common area for muscle strain is the abdominals which will often present as a side strain and again, this is usually seen in fast bowlers. Side strains are tears to the internal oblique, external oblique or transverse abdominal muscles; this will generally occur on the non-bowling side of the athlete. This is due to the high twisting and flexing force placed on the trunk during bowling combined with the repetitive nature of the sport.
Early management of muscle strains include rest and optimal loading of the muscle, ice compression and elevation. This should be continued for 48-72 hours following an injury.
Initially you will be taken through an assessment with your physio to confirm a diagnosis and severity of the injury. From there a rehabilitation program will be tailored to you to ensure you return to cricket as quick and as safely as possible. Throughout this process, deficiencies such as strength, mobility and stability may need to be addressed to limit the risk of re-injury.
Not the first injury that would come to mind when thinking about cricket and by no means the most common but according to the 2016 Orchard report, concussions had an incident rate of 4.4% in elite cricket in 2016. This has increased significantly over the last 3 years which is likely due to our better understanding of the injury and improved ability to test for it.
Concussion has become a big talking point in sport over the last few years. It is usually a minor injury involving a direct blow to the head, face or neck. However due the nature of cricket this is quite often a result of a collision with the ball to the head. As everyone is affected by concussion differently, symptoms can vary considerably. Due to the ambiguity symptoms, management is largely dependent on the presentation of the injury.
It is difficult to assess and ideally this should be left to your medical staff but if you suspect someone may have a concussion they should be rested from play until assessed by a doctor. Common signs and symptoms of concussion to look out for are:
Visual disturbances –Blurred, double vision
Hearing problems- ringing in the ears
Irritability – emotional changes
Feeling slow or tired
Poor co-ordination or balance
Slow to respond to questions of cues
Easily distracted/poor concentration
Sleep disturbances (correlated with attention deficits/poor recovery of cognitive function)
Decreased playing ability