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Common Injuries throughout the Cricket Season

Published: October 18, 2023

The most common injuries seen in Cricket are:

  1. Hamstring Strain
  2. Low Back Pain
  3. Side Strain
  4. Shoulder Pain
  5. Sprained Ankle

In majority of cases these types of injuries can be prevented given the right injury prevention programs are employed.

For best effect, injury prevention programs should be done before EVERY training and game. It should only take 10-15 minutes and can be incorporated into the warm-up.

What is a Hamstring Strain?

A Hamstring Strain is a tear in the muscle tissue. Hamstring strains tend to affect all cricketers regardless of position and account for around 15% of all cricket injuries. Hamstring strains occur during explosive sprinting activities such as bowling, taking a quick single, or fielding a ball.

Because of the sudden stress on the muscles, the Hamstrings can be stretched beyond their limits and the muscle tissue can be torn. Any muscle tear is referred to as a strain and depending on its severity, it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.

What can you do to prevent a Hamstring Strain?

In bowlers, especially fast bowlers there is a positive link between 'over bowling' and sustaining a Hamstring Strain. Over bowling can be avoided by recording a log of each bowler's workload to prevent sudden overload or sustained overload.

A hamstring specific strength program is another way to prevent injuries from occurring in the hamstring. This program should incorporate strength challenges while the hamstring is in different ranges and under variable loads.

A warm-up prior to cricket is designed to decrease muscle injuries because the muscle is more extensible when the tissue temperature has been increased by one or two degrees. A good warm up should last at least 10 minutes, starting gently and finishing at full pace activity.

What should you do if you suffer a Hamstring Strain?

If you have a Hamstring Strain follow the RICE protocol - rest, ice and compression and elevation for the first 24-36 hours.

Seek advice from your Physiotherapist regarding rehabilitation. Most Hamstring Strains will be fully healed by 6 weeks, but recurrent problems can occur when a return to play is attempted too early.

What is Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is the general term for any pain in the back. The repetitive action of bowling is the biggest cause of low back pain in cricket, but bending to field the ball and standing in the field for prolonged periods also put stress on the back which can cause back pain.

Any structure of the lower back can be affected - the discs, ligaments, muscles or Facet joints. However, in fast bowlers, particularly younger ones, the most commonly affected part of the lower back is the 'Pars Interarticularis' region of the Lumbar vertebra, where a stress fracture can develop. This is characterised by an ache in the back following cricket, particularly when bending backwards.

What can you do to prevent Low Back Pain?

Fast bowling in cricket requires a combination of spinal hyperextension (bending backwards) together with rotation and side bending of the trunk. When repeated this puts excessive stress on an area of the vertebra called the Pars Interarticularis and this is where a stress fracture develops.

Bowling practice should be carefully monitored to ensure the lower back is not being overloaded. This is particularly important in adolescent players who have just experienced a growth spurt as they are known to be more at risk from this injury. Core stability exercises are important to prevent back problems in cricket players.

What should you do if you suffer Low Back Pain?

A heat pack can reduce back pain and back muscle spasm. Once diagnosed, stress fractures of the lower back usually require 6 weeks of rest to allow the bone to heal. During this period, an exercise programme under the guidance of your Physiotherapist can be started. This focuses on exercises to increase the muscular stability in the lower back.

Research has shown that poor muscular stability in the lumbar region can lead to low back pain. Core stability exercises target certain specific muscles which give the spine much better support.

What is a Side Strain?

A Side Strain is common in cricket, where it typically occurs in bowlers. A Side Strain refers to a tear of the Internal Oblique, the External Oblique, or the Transverse abdominal fascia at the point where they attach to the four bottom ribs.

In cricket the bowlers suffer the Side Strain on the non-bowling arm side due to a forcible contraction of the muscle on that side while they are fully stretched as the bowling arm is cocked for bowling.

What can you do to prevent a Side Strain?

Core strength exercises can improve muscle function across the trunk and pelvis, and this can help to reduce the risk of a Side Strain.

Over bowling should be avoided. Each bowler should have a workload record and care should be taken to avoid sudden increases to the normal workload. The number of overs bowled per session should be increased gradually and adequate rest periods should be provided to prevent fatigue.

What should you do if you suffer a Side Strain?

In the first 24-36 hours, ice can be applied for twenty minutes every two hours. Compression can be applied to help to limit bleeding in the tissues. More active rehabilitation can be started under the guidance of your Physiotherapist once the immediate pain resolves.

What is Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain is common in cricket because of the repeated actions of throwing and bowling. The Rotator Cuff muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis and Teres Minor) are small muscles situated around the shoulder joint, which can become damaged due to overuse during cricket.

Rotator Cuff injuries often begin as inflammation (Tendinopathy) caused by repeated irritation. If the cause of the inflammation is not addressed, partial tears may develop in the cuff that could eventually become a tear all the way through one or more of the Rotator Cuff muscles.

What can you do to prevent Shoulder Pain?

All cricketers should pay attention to flexibility, strength, and endurance of the shoulder muscles. Correct throwing and bowling technique can help to reduce injury risk. Shoulder stabilisation exercises under the supervision of your Physiotherapist can also help prevent damage to the Rotator Cuff tendons.

It is important that any increase in the amount of training or competition must be gradual to prevent overload of the Rotator Cuff muscles. Bowling and fielding practice should be increased gradually to allow the Rotator Cuff tendons to adapt.

What should you do if you suffer Shoulder Pain?

Physiotherapy treatment can reduce acute (short-term) inflammation and chronic (long-term) degeneration of the cuff where a tear is not present. The objective of physiotherapy treatment is to limit inflammation and gradually re-load the muscles of the cuff. Anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor is often helpful.

What is a Sprained Ankle?

A Sprained Ankle is damage to the ligaments and soft tissues around the ankle, usually due to the ankle being twisted inwards. The ankle ligament and soft tissue damage produces bleeding within the tissues and an extremely painful, swollen ankle.

What can you do to prevent a Sprained Ankle?

Research has shown that bracing or taping the ankle can help to reduce the risk of a Sprained Ankle.

Because taping and strapping techniques often require application by a skilled physiotherapist, an ankle brace is often a more convenient alternative.

What should you do if you suffer a Sprained Ankle?

Immediately following a sprained ankle, you can follow the PRICE protocol - Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation of the ankle to reduce swelling in the first 24-36 hours.

Rehabilitation with your Physiotherapist significantly improves the outcome following a Sprained Ankle. It is important that your rehab program incorporates training that improves your balance and proprioception. Research has shown that patients with ankle instability who underwent balance and proprioception training experienced significantly fewer recurrent sprains.


If you or a family member would like to learn more about common Cricket injuries and ways to manage, the physiotherapists at Back In Motion Como work closely with many Cricket athletes and would love to help!


Phone Number: 9313 3414