Games lost to injury are a big concern for cricketers, especially during the Aussie Summer! This is of particular anxiety for fast bowlers, who average (at the highest level of the game) a 14% chance of not being selected because of injury. For spin bowlers and batsmen this percentage drops to 4 with wicket keepers at 2%. Low back pain forms a significant percentage of these injuries with approximately 30% causing lost game time for fast bowlers.
Risk factors leading to a higher chance of back injury include bowling more than 20 overs in the week prior to the match, and bowling second in a match (following batting). Therefore coaches need to ensure that athletes are not overtraining during the season in order to reduce strain on the back.
Increased shoulder counter rotation and back extension is also a cause of lower back pain. This is believed to be due to the sudden extension and rotational force impacting the facet joints and discs within the spine. The facet joint stress can be particularly dangerous in young athletes who, through their developing bone strength, are at a higher risk of bony stress in the spine. It is imperative that young athletes are assessed at the onset of back pain as the bony stress can develop quickly if not accurately assessed and managed in the early phases of injury, leading to an extended period away from the sport.
In addition, increased anterior abdominal tightness on the non-dominant side is associated with increased pain on the dominant side. This suggests that regular soft tissue release and an appropriate stretching and strengthening program will help to reduce injury throughout the cricket season by maintaining flexibility within the core and good control through the range.
Tightness of the posterior back muscles, particularly Quadratus Lumborum, a strong side flexor and stabiliser has also been shown to associate with stress within the lower lumbar spine. This again affirms the importance of a balance, stability and stretching program, along with appropriate soft tissue management.
Therefore, as you or your loved steps out on the field this cricket season, remember to remain vigilant to any back pain that is felt. Should you have any concerns at all, particularly with a developing spine, have an assessment with one of the experienced practitioners here at The Sports Injury Clinic. Call us on 9783 9990 or book online.