Common Cricket Injuries and How to Avoid Them
All popular sports come with the risk of injury, and cricket is no exception. The physical demands of the game can take their toll on bowlers, batsmen, wicket-keepers, and fielders alike.
Common complaints include shoulder and back injuries caused by overuse, while the cricket ball itself is a hazard that should be taken seriously. Even though cricket isn’t a contact sport like football or rugby, cricket injuries can happen at any time. You need to be prepared to respond to serious cricket injuries with the hopes of minimising damage and keeping your players safe and fit to play.
All good cricket clubs should have appropriate safety measures in place, including training and equipment to provide first aid for cricket injury management, such as our sports first aid kit or medical kit. We will cover the safety risks to consider when playing cricket, steps you can take to prevent injury, and how to approach treating some of the most common injuries in cricket.
Safety Risks in Cricket
As with any sport, playing cricket at any level comes with safety risks.
The Cricket Ball
One of the most obvious hazards is the cricket ball. When bowled by a professional bowler, it can travel at speeds of up to 161 kilometres per hour. It can cause some of the most serious cricket injuries if it lands in the wrong place. Impact with a hard object travelling at such force is dangerous and can even be deadly. A cricket ball injury to the head could cause a concussion, lack of consciousness, vision impairment, severe brain damage, or fatality in the most serious of circumstances. Throwing and catching a cricket ball can also lead to cricket hand injuries, as well as strained muscles in the shoulders or wrists and overuse injuries in the back and upper torso from overuse.
Extreme weather conditions can also present safety risks and increase the need for first aid for cricket injury management. Cold weather and high wind can lead to players suffering in lower temperatures and being at risk of over-exposure. Wet conditions can reduce visibility, allowing for avoidable accidents to happen during play, as well as wet ground and puddles significantly increasing the risk of slips and falls. Hot weather also presents a major risk to the safety of players, staff, and spectators. Long periods spent under the hot sun can cause serious dehydration and heat exhaustion. Where weather conditions are extreme, or present a significant risk of cricket injuries or illnesses occurring, coaches and match officials should always consider postponing a game to ensure everyone’s safety.
Slips, Trips, and Collisions
Slips, trips, and collisions with other players or equipment are also a cause of common injuries in cricket. Consider the equipment used by cricketers and then the physical activity of the running, swinging, and throwing required during the match. When combined, often at high speed, cricket players are presented with repeated safety risks in the event of slips, falls, or impacts with another player. These incidents could lead to a range of cricket injuries, including concussion, wound trauma, strained muscles, strained joints, and even broken bones.
Similarly, the requirements of the game lead many players to suffer overuse injuries. Bowlers throw the ball in a repetitive, high-power motion repeatedly throughout a game, often leading to the risk of a cricket shoulder injury, back pain, and spinal damage caused by overuse. Batsmen, wicket-keepers, and fielders are also at risk of overuse injuries during play.
Preventing Cricket Injuries
There are several measures that you should take to reduce the risk of most common injuries in cricket and their prevention is best achieved by taking into account the following preparations and precautions.
Ensure that your cricket players’ bodies are fit and well prepared to withstand the demands of a lengthy cricket game. All players should attend regular training sessions, especially ahead of a big match.
Preparation on the day is also essential. Planning and implementing a thorough warm-up before playing cricket will help to protect players’ muscle groups and joints from the physical strains that cricket requires. This is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Make sure to organise cool-down exercises and stretches after play too.
Coach the Right Techniques
Whether playing as a fielder, bowler, batsman or wicket-keeper, ensuring that you are playing with the right techniques is critical. This isn’t just to improve performance and accuracy. Poor technique will increase the risk of cricket injury, especially for bowlers.
Wearing the Right Gear
Providing your team with well-fitting cricket shoes that support players’ joints and reduce the risk of trips and falls is a no-brainer. They will also help to protect players’ feet from a painful big toe injury. Cricket teams should also be supplied with suitable protective equipment. Mouth guards (preferably custom-fitted), well-fitting helmets with face shields, boxes, shin pads, arm and leg pads, and gloves are vital pieces of equipment to protect cricketers from the impact of the cricket ball, whether batting, bowling, or catching.
Maintain a Safe Playing Environment
Before all training sessions and cricket games, the cricket pitch should be walked over thoroughly to ensure it is clear and safe for play. This includes removing any stones, branches, or other trip hazards. Making sure all areas of the green are free from puddles or wet patches will also reduce the risk of slips and falls.
First Aid Provisions
Always make sure you have a trained first aider on hand and easy access to a well-stocked first aid kit. We cover the essential first aid skills for cricket coaches in our blog. Most teams would be well-catered for with our sports first aid kit, while younger teams would be suited to our junior team sports first aid kit.
Cater for Your Players’ Needs and Abilities
Paying attention to your players’ fitness levels, age, injury history, and physical needs is essential. Where players have a history of injury, it is well worth consulting a professional sports physiotherapist to assess whether they require additional support and protection such as taping and strapping. Planning plenty of breaks and rest periods will also minimise the risk of injury and the extent of potential damage through overuse. Use a water bottle with a chin rest to ensure all players have access to water without the worry of cross infection.
Adapt Play to the Weather Conditions
Where weather conditions are extreme, make sure to consider and manage the risks posed. Hot weather can lead to dehydration, exhaustion, and other heat-related illness so encourage regular hydration and sunscreen application, and factor in more breaks.
In wet conditions, players are exposed to an increased risk of slips and falls, as well as reduced visibility while playing. Consider postponing the game to minimise the risks.
The Most Common Cricket Injuries and How to Treat Them
As with any sport, there is always a possibility of players suffering cricket injuries, and prevention measures are not always effective. Cricket coaches should have a good knowledge of common sports injuries in cricket and how to treat them, even when a trained first aider is present.
In any cricket game or training session, the cricket ball can travel at high speeds and presents a major hazard. While players wear protective headgear to reduce the damage of an impact to the head, concussion is still a major risk.
A concussion is a complex and potentially harmful brain injury that must be taken seriously. Even players who have suffered minor bumps should be assessed for concussion and removed from play. Failure to recognise the symptoms can have serious consequences.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recommends approaching the treatment of all head injuries through the following steps to keep players safe and reduce the long-term impact of a possible concussion:
- Recognise (the impact with the head and possible symptoms)
- Resuscitate (where a player has been knocked unconscious)
- Remove (from play)
- Refer (to a medical professional for assessment)
- Rest (and monitor symptoms)
- Recover (allow plenty of time for the casualty to recover)
- Return (to play once approved by a medical professional)
Check out the ECB concussion and head injury guidelines for more information on how to keep your team safe.
Back injuries are some of the most serious and most common injuries in cricket. A cricket back injury could present as minor twinges and discomfort but should always be looked at by a professional. Even minor pain in the back area can be a result of spinal damage and lumbar disc degeneration.
When a player is complaining of reduced mobility and severe pain symptoms, always seek the advice of a trained sports physiotherapist to safely treat a back injury, and make sure to limit the player’s movement as much as possible.
Another common cricket injury affecting the back area and torso is a side strain injury. Cricket bowlers most commonly suffer from overuse injuries like this where the repetitive bowling motion pulls and strains muscle groups across the back, shoulder and sides of the torso.
With these kinds of serious and possibly debilitating cricket injuries, rehabilitation and training are necessary to minimise the long-term damage. Trained first aiders will be able to use Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (RICE) therapy to manage pain symptoms. Use instant icepacks and compression bandages to reduce swelling. Over the next 24-48 hours of a muscle or joint cricket injury, spray the area with medical freeze spray to prolong the benefits of cold therapy.
Always ask a sports physiotherapist to advise on necessary rehabilitation and supportive measures to aid recovery. Seek professional attention to determine whether surgery is required in the most serious cases. Bowlers and batsmen who are recovering from a cricket back injury often use strapping and Kinesio tape to support this large muscle group and their spine during recovery and when returning to play.
Upper Limb Injuries
In the event of a cricket shoulder injury, treatment will depend on its severity but should always be assessed by a medical professional to minimise damage before returning to play. Kinesiology tape is ideal for supporting a cricket shoulder injury caused by overuse and strained ligaments because it offers support while allowing for a range of movement and flexibility.
Alongside shoulder damage, common cricket bowling injuries include damage to the elbow. Treatment of a cricket elbow injury will also depend on the pain symptoms, level of mobility in the joint, and injury history of the player. In all instances of arm injuries, apply RICE therapy using instant ice packs, freeze spray and a compression bandage. After this, use rehabilitation exercises to increase the recovery rate.
Hand and wrist injuries can occur when cricketers bat, bowl, or field. Bare hands and fingers are particularly vulnerable to being hit by a fast-moving cricket ball and can suffer significant damage. When faced with a finger injury in cricket, or thumb injury from cricket ball impact, using RICE therapy as soon as possible is essential. Where skin has been broken and their is evidence of a wound, follow first aid training to assess, stop the bleeding, dress, and protect the wound to promote natural healing.
Ligament strains in the wrist and finger joints can impact players’ range of motion and ability to grip and catch the ball, so should all be treated with extreme caution and assessed by a medical professional to determine how to cure cricket ball injury damage and safely return injured players to the game.
Lower Limb, Foot and Ankle Injuries
One of the most common cricket injuries is a hamstring injury. In cricket, players are prone to hamstring strains because they may be required to sprint after extended periods of standing relatively still. In most cases, a pulled hamstring, or strain, can be treated with the rest, ice, compress, elevate method. Players should be cautious returning to play after suffering a cricket hamstring injury, repeat injuries are more likely to become severe and could require surgery in extreme cases.
Other common sports injuries in cricket include cricket knee injuries, a groin injury, cricket ligament injury, cricketers’ ankle injuries and general cramps and muscle strains. Initial treatment should always start with removing the cricketer from play, and applying RICE therapy. For more serious ankle injuries or damage to the foot such as a big toe injury, cricket first aiders should keep the foot elevated and ensure a medical professional attends to assess the injury before any weight is put back onto the injured joint. We cover how to treat a sprained ankle on our blog.
Your Cricket First Aid Kit
Having access to a well-stocked first aid kit is an essential measure to keep your cricket players safe whether during training sessions, informal games, or professional matches. We cover everything you need to know about Cricket First Aid Kits and their essential contents on our blog.
Sterosport stocks a premium sports first aid kit to meet all your club’s first aid needs, with a ore extensive selection of first aid equipment in our sports medical kit suited to either pitchside treatment or sports physiotherapists.
For more information about Essential First Aid Skills for Cricket Coaches check out our blog.
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