How to protect yourself from the 4 most common cricket injuries | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to protect yourself from the 4 most common cricket injuries

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Sports scientists know a lot about how cricketers get injured, but oddly there is no study on the prevention of injury.

That's left up to the coaches and players themselves.

You could turn to a gym to organise an injury prevention training plan, but often commercial gyms have little understanding of the needs of cricketers.

Looking at the research itself, I have picked out the 4 most common preventable areas of injury and come up with a few suggestions of how to keep you away from these injuries. I have used these strategies for many years and can count the number of injuries I have sustained since the early 1990s as just 1 (and that was getting hit by a ball).

1. Running injuries

Hamstring pulls are common, especially in club cricket where many players spent their week sitting down at school, college or work. This causes an imbalance between the hamstrings (underused) and the hip flexing muscles (overused when sitting).

To rebalance this, you must train your hamstrings to move efficiently while you are running, jogging and sprinting (hip extension). Strengthen your hamstrings in the gym with exercises like single leg deadlifts and reverse lunges.

Additionally (and as a bare minimum if you are not training) make sure your pre game warm up includes hip extension 'activation' work. Exercises like cook hip lifts and glute bridges will wake up the muscles involved in hip extension before you play (or even during play if you like).

One thing your hamstrings do not do much when playing cricket is flexing your knee. For that reason it's best to avoid hamstring curl machines that isolate the muscles in a non-specific movement pattern.

2. Throwing injuries

Both throwing and bowling involve a lot of work from the muscles in your shoulders. This is particularly true of the stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff. Normal life and even effective strength training do not allow these muscles to be strengthened enough.

The answer is to ensure you are using 'prehab' style exercises for these stabilising muscles. These exercises do not need weight (the muscles are small and easy to overload).  Add a simple YTLW circuit and wall slides to your warm up before matches, training and gym sessions.

The video below is a YTLW circuit:
3. Back injuries

Bowlers are most likely to get lower back problems through overuse, even if they have a good strong action. The simple way to prevent overuse problems is to make sure you stick to the fast bowling guidelines laid down by the ECB, even if you are over the age of 19.

If you have a mixed action and you get a lot of back injuries you may want to consider changing your action to front or side on. Mixing them up has been shown to increase the chance of injury.

Also, the stronger the muscles of your back and truck (that hold your spine in a healthy position) the less chance of injury. However, the core does not move or produce power itself so exercises should focus on stabilising. Good old fashioned press ups and planks are useful exercises to include in training sessions. As they only require bodyweight you can also include them in skill sessions.

Avoid lumbar flexion exercises like crunches and sit ups. They have been shown by back experts to exhibit a large amount of force on the lower back while doing them. This can weaken the back for when you bowl. It can also lead to poor posture which is another indicator of back related injury in athletes.

4. Lower limb injuries

Apart from hamstrings (mentioned above) there are a number of other possible issues, especially for bowlers. Hips and ankles need to be both strong and mobile. Knees need to be strong and stable.

Before you train or hit the gym it's important to do some work to make sure you have a full range of movement in both your hips and ankles. This can be done easily in the warm up with ankle mobility exercises and a dynamic warm up.

Here is an ankle mobility video from Bill Hartman:

Knees are easier. Stability in the knee is created by strength in the muscles and ligaments around the joint. To increase the strength of these make sure you are strength training with exercises like single leg squats.

This exercise is very useful as it trains all the stabilising muscles around the knee as well as the prime mover muscles.

In many ways these techniques are simple extensions of rehabilitation methods that have been used for years by physios. However, include the right 'prehab' stuff in your warm ups and the right key exercises in your training and you may not need to be in rehab again.


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I don't play cricket, but I enjoyed your article - your advice could apply to many other sports as well.

Thanks Chris, a lot of it is adapted from US sport but is being used in professional cricket now.

thanks a lot for giving the opportunities to the youngsters for playing better cricket

However, the core does not move or produce power itself so exercises should focus on stabilising.

Wish i'd seen that a month ago! I have been doing two stabilising exercises but it seemed 'obvious' that the core produced power, what with the whole 'bending back and pulling yourself forward' in the fast bowling action. I was doing this one: it simply coincided with some improvements i noticed after a month of injury rehab early in the year which involved a few core strengthening and stabilisation exercises. Should I cut it out totally?

Perhaps I should stick to those: ?


Thanks maau for sharing this

I hurt my hamstring a few weeks ago thinking it was only pulled and would get better after a few days to a week but hasn't gone away. Could you tell me what I need to do to get it better. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated.