Cricket is one of the oldest and most popular sports, followed by millions of people across the world. It requires great agility, fitness, and full-body coordination to bat, bowl, and field successfully.
The lower body plays an important role in all four actions in cricket — batting, bowling, fielding and wicketkeeping. Therefore, it’s important for cricketers to understand how the lower body works to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Types of Lower Body Injuries
A 2010 study on injuries to recreational and professional players in New Zealand between 2000 and 2005 reported that upper and lower body injuries were nearly equal in proportion. Of the lower body injuries in cricket, ankle, Achilles tendon, shin bone, and knees were commonly reported sights due to repetitive stress.
A 2012 study in the South African Journal of Sports Medicine Injuries also reported that ankle, knee, thigh, and lower back injuries were common amongst teenage cricket players in Durban. Direct physical trauma and overuse injuries were the two main internal factors that contributed to injuries in these regions.
The greater risk of overuse injuries in international cricket may be because of the increased number of domestic and international games players. The one-day and t20 formats, as well as the five-day test games, mean that players have little time in between games for rest and recovery.
Without proper training and time to recover, there may be a greater risk of muscle fatigue and overuse injuries. Preexisting conditions such as foot posture problems may add to these risks.
Action Specific Injuries
A bowler needs to run down to the pitch, jump, and land properly to complete the bowling action. A batsman needs propulsion from the feet to swing or slice the bat. A wicketkeeper has to spend the majority of time kneeling down. So basically, healthy lower body movement is important in all actions.
Batsmen have to make propelling movements on the back foot or the front foot to strike the ball, which can add excessive load on the knees, the lower back, and surrounding joints. This may increase the risk of knee and lower back injuries.
Wicketkeepers are required to be more fit and agile as they are in the kneeling position for the majority of the bowling innings. Without proper strength training and rest, they may be exposed to foot, ankle, and/or knee injuries.
Bowlers, especially fast bowlers, require greater muscle strength to reduce muscle fatigue and avoid repetitive stress injuries which may arise from lengthy bowling spells. Better strength and conditioning can allow bowlers to bowl with proper form and conserve energy while completing the action.
Impact of Foot Posture
Foot problems may limit the ability to train and play games to full potential. Of course, there are exceptions, as Shoaib Akhtar, the fastest bowler ever, was flatfooted. However, he still required specialised footwear and treatment to reduce the impact of flat-footedness on his game.
Flat feet may cause posture problems in the lower and upper body. As the foot arch collapses, it causes the shin bone and thigh bone to twist inwards. This leads to increased load on the ankles, knees, hips, and the lower back, which may increase the risk of injuries.
Treatment and Supportive Care
Building up strength and stamina should be prioritised for endurance and preventing injuries. With a better understanding of how the lower body works, players can reduce or altogether avoid various types of injuries.
Players with foot posture problems should be examined by foot care specialists or physiotherapists. This will allow them to know the extent of posture problems, how they impact performance, and what treatment options will be best for them.
MASS4D® Ready to Wear insoles can be recommended for players with foot posture problems, helping promote alignment from the feet up.
MASS4D® supports the foot in its optimal posture, helping promote healthy distribution of weight to reduce excessive load on the joints, muscles, and tendons in the lower body.
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Reference: Christie, C. J. (2012) The Physical Demands of Batting and Fast Bowling in Cricket. An International Perspective on Topics in Sports Medicine and Sports Injury: February 2012, pp. 321-332. DOI: 10.5772/27301
Reference: Noorbhai, M. H., Essack, F. M., Thwala, S. N., Ellapen, T. J., van Heerden, J. H. (2012) Prevalence of Cricket-related Musculoskeletal Pain Among
Adolescent Cricketers in KwaZulu-Natal. The South African Journal of Sports Medicine: 2012, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 3-9
Reference: Walker, H. L., Carr, D. J., Chalmers, D., Wilson, C. A. (2010) Injury to Recreational and Professional Cricket Players in New Zealand: Circumstances, Type and Potential for Intervention. Accident Analysis and Prevention: November 2010, Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 2094-2098. DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2010.06.022
Pilates refers to a series of exercises that target the core – the abdomen, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thigh, and so on. The movements involved in pilates also help to improve flexibility and posture while promoting core stability.