Cricket injuries are either acute injuries which occur suddenly such as a torn muscle, or an impact from the ball. Or they can be chronic injuries which occur gradually through overuse.
Most common acute injuries
- Contusions - caused by direct impact to the muscle.
- Rotator cuff injuries - A rotator cuff strain is a tear to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder. These muscles are important for stabilizing the shoulder joint. Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff will usually consist of sudden pain in the shoulder sometimes accompanied by a tearing feeling. This can be severe and may transmit down into the arm.
- Ankle sprain - One of the most common injuries in sport.
- Medial knee cartilage meniscus injury - A torn meniscus is a tear to the semi circular cartilage in the knee joint causing pain on the inside of the knee. It is commonly injured through direct impact in contact sports or twisting but can also occur in older athletes through gradual degeneration.
Most common gradual onset injuries
- Impingement syndrome of the shoulder - Impingement syndrome is sometimes called swimmer’s shoulder or thrower’s shoulder and is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff becoming impinged as they pass through the shoulder joint. Symptoms include shoulder pain which comes on gradually over a period of time.
- Throwers elbow (Golfers elbow) - Golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis is an injury similar to tennis elbow but causing pain on the inside of the elbow instead. It is sometimes known as throwers elbow. Symptoms often come on gradually through overuse although acute injuries can occur to pitchers who throw too hard too soon or with bad technique.
- Lower back pain - Back pain can be particularly difficult to diagnose due to the complexity and the number of structures and tissues in the lower back that can cause pain. The most common causes are slipped discs and this can sometimes cause leg pain called Sciatica.
Should I seek professional treatment?
If you have any of the following symptoms you should seek further medical assistance.
- Severe pain, especially on walking
- Severe swelling (oedema)
- Altered sensation in the foot – such as a feeling of “pins and needles” (paresthesia) or a “loss of feeling” (anaesthesia).
- Unable to complete normal daily activities after the initial 72 hours.
Further medical assistance can be sought through either your local GP or a private clinician such as a podiatrist, physiotherapist, sports therapist, osteopath or chiropractor. If you have followed the P.R.I.C.E. principles (see below) and are still unable to walk after 72 hours or still have severe pain that is not subsiding after the first 72 hours you should visit your local A&E department for further assessment.
Secondly, if you have applied for P.R.I.C.E. principles and still have weakness that lasts a long time (more than 2 weeks) or have ongoing discomfort in your foot or heel, you are highly recommended to seek advice from a specialist expert - such as a podiatrist or physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor - who can provide you with advice and an appropriate and effective recovery and rehabilitation program.
Immediate first aid for acute injuries
The PRICE principles are the gold standard set for treating acute sports injuries. The acronym stands stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation and should be applied as early as possible and continued for at least the first 24-72 hours.
Protection of the damaged tissue is vital to prevent further damage and enable the healing process to start efficiently and effectively. There are a number of ways to protect the injured area all with the same aim of limiting further movement and use of the joint/muscle/ligament/tendon. One way this can be achieved is using a support or splint.
In the early stages, rest is one of the most important components of the P.R.I.C.E principle but is often neglected or ignored. It does not only refer to the prolonged period of time that the athlete will be out of action but also to the immediate period after the injury.
An athlete must know when to stop training and allow the injured area to heal otherwise repetitive minor injuries can often result in a more severe injury that keeps the athlete out for much longer.
If an injury is sustained during sporting activity some athletes have a tendency to 'run it off'. This implies that by continuing to participate in the exercise, the injury will simply go away. In fact, in the majority of cases this is not true and is not advisable.
Ice therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is one of the most widely known and used treatment modalities for acute sports injuries. It is cheap, easy to use and requires very little time to or expertise to prepare.
The application of ice to an injury, in the acute phase can substantially decrease the extent of the damage. It achieves this in a number of different ways:
- Decreases the amount of bleeding by closing down the blood vessels (called vasoconstriction).
- Reduces pain (pain gate theory)
- Reduces muscle spasm
- Reduces the risk of cell death (also called necrosis) by decreasing the rate of metabolism
Ice is usually applied to the injured site by means of a bag filled with crushed ice which is wrapped in a damp towel. The damp towel is essential as it forms a barrier between the bag of ice and the skin and reduces the risk of an “ice burn”. DO NOT leave the ice on for more than 15 minutes as you could cause an “ice burn”.
There are a small number of areas that you should not apply ice to which include the neck, the outside bone of the elbow, the collar bone (upper end), the front of the hip (bony part) and the outer bone of the knee. The reason for this is there is a superficial nerve just below the skin in these areas that can be damaged by applying ice to it. Always check for contraindications.
Applying compression to an injured area minimises the amount of swelling that forms after an injury in two ways and should be applied for the first 24 to 72 hours from the onset of injury. Compression can be applied through a number of methods. The most effective of these is by using a compression bandage which is an elasticated bandage that simply fits around the affected limb.
Elevation of the injured limb is the final principle of PRICE but is equally as important as the other 4. Elevation allows gravity to drain the fluid away from the injured site. This aids in decreasing the swelling which in turn may decrease the pain associated with the oedema (swelling).
Read more on PRICE principles
Cricket Injury Prevention
Cricketers are becoming fitter and are able to put their bodies under more strain in the course of the game. Injuries usually occur by one of two methods; those caused through overuse and those caused suddenly by impact or uncoordinated movement.
It is possible to reduce your chances of an injury by:
- Warming up, cooling down and stretching,
- Proper conditioning.
- Regular sports massage and a good diet.
- Having the right equipment.
Warming up is often overlooked but should be part of your injury prevention routine. A good warm will:
- Increase the temperature of muscles - they work better at a temperature of 40 degrees.
- Increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles.
- Increase the speed of nerve impulses - making you faster.
- Increase range of motion at joints reducing the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments
Warm up will not only help avoid injury but will also improve performance.
A warm up should consist of:
- Gentle jog to circulate blood and oxygen supplying the muscles with more energy to work with.
- Stretching to increase the range of motion at joints. Emphasis should be placed on stretching the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings and calf muscles - but do not neglect the rest.
The warm up should last around 10 - 15 minutes. If you are in the field for long periods of time, keep warm, stay mobile and stretch regularly. If you have to wait a long time before batting, the same applies.
This is also often overlooked in favor of the bar but can help avoid injuries and boost performance. The aim of the cool down is to:
- Gradually lower heart rate.
- Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles, restoring them to the condition they were in before exercise.
- Remove waste products such as lactic acid.
- Reduce the risk of muscle soreness.
The cool down should consist of a gentle jog followed by light stretching.
The wearing of protective equipment is especially important to the batter and wicket keeper in cricket. The batter should wear a helmet with face guard, leg pads, gloves and a box or cup. The wicket keeper usually wears a helmet and gloves.
Getting a regular sports massage can flush the muscles of waste products and release tight knots, lumps and bumps in muscles that if left may cause strains and tears. It is possible for a good sports massage therapist to identify potential trouble spots long before they become injuries.
Nutrition, Hydration Injury
Proper nutrition is important. A bad diet will prevent you from recovering from training sessions making you more prone to injury. A balanced diet is what you should aim for:
- Carbohydrate is important for refueling muscles.
- Protein rebuilds muscles.
- If you become dehydrated then less blood will flow through muscles. The muscles will be more prone to injury.
- Vitamins and minerals are required for a number of reasons related to recovery.
Much of what is discussed above should be part of your sporting routine. A biomechanical analysis can help identify possible injury risks. Assessment from a sports therapist or specialist can identify weak areas and possible injury risks. A course of exercises specific to your needs can give you the best chance of avoiding injury.
Not allowing your body to recover properly from training will eventually result in injury. Your body needs time to rebuild itself stronger before the next training session. Remember - you are not training when you are training, you are training when you recover! Sleep is also an important part of your training. If you are not getting enough, get it sorted.