Injuries in cricket are quite common, even though it is a non-contact sport. In this four-part series we’ll look at some of the most frequently-occurring injuries in club cricket. In part one the focus will be on hamstring injuries…
What causes hamstring injuries in cricket?
Hamstring strains sustained while playing cricket are caused by excessive stress on the muscles during explosive bursts of movement while bowling, or quick changes of direction while batting, or lunging or jumping while fielding the ball. Because of the sudden forceful acceleration, the hamstrings can be stretched beyond their limits and the muscle tissue can be torn. Cricketers are prone to hamstring strains because they often need to sprint after long periods of relative inactivity.
The symptoms of a hamstring strain may include pain, swelling and skin discolouration. The muscle will often spasm (seize up) and feel tight and tender. In severe cases the injured person may feel or hear a pop, followed immediately by severe pain in the affected leg. Walking may be restricted due to tightness in the muscle.
How do you treat a hamstring strain?
Mild hamstring strains can be treated by following the RICE protocol:
- Rest – avoid physical activity during the first few days after the injury.
- Ice – apply an ice bag or instant cold pack to your stretched hamstring for about 20 minutes, up to every two hours for the first three days (don’t apply ice directly to the skin).
- Compression – a compression bandage, such as cohesive or crepe bandage, can help reduce bruising and swelling. Apply the bandage from below the injured area and extend above the injured area. Compression can be applied while cooling the injury by wrapping the cold pack in place.
- Elevation – keep the injured leg slightly raised, which will help reduce swelling.
It’s important to seek immediate medical attention for any form of hamstring strain for a full diagnosis of the injury. If a mild hamstring strain is diagnosed, the doctor may prescribe pain relief medication and refer you to physiotherapist for treatment. In severe cases, where the hamstring has ruptured, the doctor may recommend surgery to stitch the damaged tissue.
How do you prevent a hamstring strain?
In cricket, where a match can be played for hours at a time, it is important to keep the muscles warm and the joints loose, particularly just before batting or bowling, as players are often inactive before this, making them more susceptible to injury. Undertaking thorough warm-ups including dynamic stretches and sport-specific drills can help reduce the risk of injury and these exercises can be undertaken throughout the game. It’s particularly important that the warm-up sessions include hip extension exercises to wake up the muscles involved in hip extension before you play.
Strengthening the hamstring muscle can also improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Thanks for reading. In the next instalment, we’ll look at sprained ankles. If you’d like to buy any of the equipment we used in the treatment examples pictured above, simply visit our online shop.