With increasing physical demands being placed on cricket players, adequate preparation before a game is necessary to build up strength and stamina in individuals for enduring long hours on the field and for the prevention of injury.
The inclusion of more five- and one-day matches per seasons, longer seasons and frequent touring necessitates cricket players to maintain their skills and mental aptitude by enhancing fitness levels through proper dietary modifications and regular training.
It is easier to formulate training and preventative programmes with a clear understanding of the types of injuries cricket players are most susceptible to while on the field which could potentially affect their performance in the long-term.
Walker et al. extensively studied injuries to recreational and professional cricket players in New Zealand between 2000 to 2005 by identifying cases from the National Minimum Data Set of public and private hospital discharges and day patients.
The authors reported that injuries to the upper and lower extremity were similar in proportion; with almost one-third of lower limb injuries occurring to the Achilles tendon, tibia/fibula, ankle and knee mainly due to overexertion and strenuous or repetitive movements.
The knee, lower back, ankle and thigh were also reported by Noorbhai et al. in their study as the anatomical sites most frequently subjected to cricket-related musculoskeletal pain over a 12-month period among adolescent cricketers in Durban.
Direct physical trauma and overuse were listed as the two main intrinsic factors contributing to pain experienced in the aforementioned regions.
Batsmen display propelling movements either on the front foot or back foot which load excessive pressure and tension on the knee and surrounding joints of the patella during flexion and extension, thereby placing the knee joint at an increased risk for injury.
Wicket-keepers are required to spend a majority of their time kneeling down and flexing their knees while playing, which increases their risk of pain at the knee joint.
Candice Jo-Anne Christie, from the Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics at Rhodes University in South Africa, states that the repeated eccentric actions during fast bowling are the real source of stress for fast bowlers and an individual requires substantial muscle strength in order to reduce the damage arising from these repetitive actions.
These eccentric actions alter muscle recruitment over time resulting in the inability to store the energy of landing and to recover energy for the push-off phase of the running stride which follows; the early-onset of fatigue over time negatively impacts performance and increases the risk of injury.
Besides implementing appropriate protective gear, training and muscle strengthening strategies, a biomechanical assessment of the cricketers must be conducted in order to determine any postural discrepancies that could increase their predisposition to lower extremity injuries.
This is because a cricket player with an underlying biomechanical problem will experience continuous traumatic motions in addition to the abnormal movement of the feet and body, hastening the development of a host of repetitive stress injuries or overuse injuries.
A MASS4D® customised orthotic intervention would help in addressing structural problems of the foot to minimise compensatory movements of the rest of the body that could further exacerbate pressure on the joints, muscles and tendons of the lower limbs.
As both a preventative and supportive device, MASS4D® foot orthotics would help in reducing stressful distribution of weight in the lower limbs and promote the optimal re-alignment of muscles, tendons and ligaments; the cricket player can heal from lower limb injuries faster and make a return to the field with a reduced risk of recurrences.
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