Whether you are a batter, bowler or both, there are certain injuries that you are more at risk of than others. Knee pain is one that might make you sit out on the sidelines. No cricketer wants to do that. Hence understanding why knee injuries are so prevalent and how to prevent them becomes crucial.
There are two types of cricket injuries- acute and chronic. Acute injuries are those that occur instantly for example if you are struck by a ball or if you pull/tear a muscle or ligament while turning quickly. Chronic injuries happen over time through overuse such as repetitive bowling, etc.
The most common injuries associated with the knee in cricket occur while bowling. In the landing stride, bowlers are constantly twisting and putting extreme force through the knee joint; this can then result in a strain or more severely a tear to one or more ligaments or menisci supporting the knee joint. Being the major shock absorbers of the knee joint, injury to meniscus or ligaments could lead to a cascade of early onset degenerative changes in and around the joint. This kind of injury creates pain on the inside of the knee, while squatting or bending. Meniscus injuries should not be ignored since they may aggravate if you continue to play with the injury.
Another common knee injury in bowlers is patellar tendinopathy- inflammation of the quadriceps muscle tendon mainly resulting from overuse and poor technique. Due to the pace of the sport and excessive translatory motions, there always remains a risk of injury to the muscles around the knee joint, most commonly the hamstring, quadriceps, ITB(ilio-tibial band) and popliteus muscles. Improper technique, faulty shoes and poor strength can also contribute to stress fractures in and around the knee joint and particularly the shin.
In view of the above, good mobility, strength and flexibility training should be incorporated in the exercise routine. Strength training should involve core strength, arm strength, hip, knee and ankle strengthening. This should be accompanied by a good warm up and cool down routine. Improving stability of the knee and ankle complex along with correction of faulty technique and footwear play a major part in injury prevention. Due to the high impact nature of the sport, good shock absorbing shoes with a medial arch support are suitable. Another vital part in training involves good rest periods in enhancing recovery of the player.
Cricket may not be a contact sport but injuries are common as the various actions that are involved place a strain on the body. Preventing these injuries is the ideal thing to do. You may visit your sports physiotherapist for a cricket injury risk screening and hence understand injury prevention strategies specific to you. This will enable you to stay ahead of the game. If already injured, immediate consultation with the sports physiotherapist is recommended. A thorough biomechanical analysis and speedy management will get you back in the game without any restrictions.