Cricket fast bowlers and injury rates… what is the correlation?

 

 

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With the change in seasons, Physiotherapists at The Injury Clinic are starting to see a growing number bowling-related cricket injuries. While traditionally considered a low injury risk sport (especially in comparison with sports such as AFL), the change in type and volume of loading often contributes to the development of injuries. With injuries to bowlers accounting for 11% of training and 38% of match injuries, they are the players most susceptible to injuries. So, what are the most common injuries and why do they happen?

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COMMON INJURIES TO FAST BOWLERS…

Common injuries include (but are not limited to):

  • Muscle injuries (53%) – most commonly hamstrings, calf, quadriceps, adductors and abdominals.
  • Tendon injuries (19%) – most commonly rotator cuff, achilles, patella and adductor tendons.
  • Bone stress injuries (17%) – most commonly stress fractures of the lower back, tibia (shin) and foot.
  • Joint injuries (11%) – most commonly knee, ankle and lower back.

 

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO INJURIES IN FAST BOWLERS

 

Extrinsic factors include (but are not limited to):

Bowling workload: High (or uncommonly low) number of overs bowled. Those who bowl less than 40 deliveries per session have an increased risk of injury in comparison with those who bowl more than 40 deliveries. 

If a player bowls <123 or >188 deliveries per week they are at high risk of injury than those who bowl 123-188 deliveries per week

Days between bowling sessions: An average of <2 days or >5 days between bowling sessions increases risk of injury

Frequency of bowling: Bowling 5 or more sessions within a 7-day period increases the risk of injury by 4.5 times

Player position: First vs. Second vs. Third change

Time of day: Morning vs. Afternoon

Number of days of play: 1-day versus 2-day; Tournaments

Bowling Order: Bowling second (batting first)

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Intrinsic factors include (but are not limited to):

Strength: Variance in strength, particularly in the shoulder and dominant vs non-dominant legs increased the likelihood of injury

Flexibility: Increased hip internal rotation range of motion, reduced ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, and reduced hamstring flexibility have been associated with an increased risk of injury

Balance: Bowlers who sustained an injury during the season were found to have a lower dynamic balance score than those who had played injury free

Bowling technique (biomechanical loading): Shoulder position, trunk rotation and knee position commonly varied between injured and non-injured bowlers. These technique differences increased the likelihood of injury in the group of bowlers who had been injured

 

ARE BOWLERS WHO HAVE ALREADY SUSTAINED AN INJURY MORE LIKELY TO SUSTAIN A SECOND INJURY?

In short, yes, an injury is far more likely to occur in bowlers who have a prior injury history. Statistics in professional leagues have shown bowlers who had sustained a previous injury were 1.85 times more likely to sustain further injuries. Furthermore, that injury was most likely to be a tendon injury approximately 21 days after a test match.  

 

WHAT CAN WE DO TO REDUCE THE RISK OF INJURIES TO FAST BOWLERS?

Bowling is a complex biomechanical task that requires co-ordination of the trunk, upper and lower limbs. The ability to co-ordinate and control each aspect of a delivery is what makes a player more or less susceptible to injury. There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of injury in bowlers; including:

 

Strength and Conditioning targeted at:

  • Shoulder stability (particularly through internal rotation)
  • Trunk control
  • Lower limb strength and stability (particularly in the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes)

 

A focus on improving:

  • Joint range of movement (in particular that of the shoulder, hip and ankle)
  • Muscle flexibility (especially in the hamstrings)
  • Balance when standing on one leg
  • Proprioception, particularly through the lower back

 

Monitoring and moderating bowling load:

  • Frequency of sessions per week
  • Number of days between each session
  • Number of deliveries per session

 

At The Injury Clinic we frequently use high-speed video footage to analysis a person’s biomechanics. This enables us to correctly identify any factors that makes a person more susceptible to injury. By identifying these factors, we are then able to construct a specific, targeted Strength and Conditioning program tailored for the individual’s needs.

 

IN SUMMARY…

Fast bowlers are far more likely to become injured than any other player in a cricket team. Due to the factors that contribute and lead to injuries, the chance of re-injury is high. At The Injury Clinic we work hard to identify each of the factors that contribute to an injury so we can minimize the risk of a secondary injury. If you have any questions or concerns regarding cricket or fast bowling injuries, please contact us on (03) 5229 3911 or info@theinjuryclinic.com.au for more information.

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