Shoulder injuries are most commonly associated with contact sports such as rugby. However, they’re also extremely common in non-contact sports such as cricket and, as the clocks go forward and temperatures get warmer, we see the attention of sporting fans turn to the start of the domestic cricket season.
Due to the repetitive actions used in batting and bowling, professional cricketers often suffer cricket shoulder injury. In fact, it’s so common, the term ‘Thrower’s shoulder’ is often used to describe shoulder pain experienced by bowlers.
So, what type of shoulder injuries do cricketers need to worry about? Here we’ll look at the different cricket shoulder injury that can occur and whether they can be prevented.
Different types of shoulder injuries experienced by cricketers
There are a wide range of shoulder conditions which can affect professional cricketers. Below we’ll provide a general overview of the different injuries and how they typically present themselves.
- Overstretched or torn tendons – One of the milder injuries which occurs in cricketers is an overstretched tendon, caused by repeatedly overusing the shoulder muscles. Bruising, swelling, pain and inflammation are all characteristics of this type of injury. In more severe cases, the tendon can tear, causing more of a burning pain and the inability to use the arm.
- Joint sprain – More specifically a glenohumeral joint sprain, this occurs when the ligament starts to come away from the bone. Like an overstretched tendon, it presents itself in bruising, pain and swelling. If the ligament has torn, however, players would experience a snapping sound, along with the inability to control the arm.
- Impingement syndrome – A more serious injury which can occur if the inflammation of milder injuries such as overstretched tendons aren’t treated. The tendon can become trapped within the subacromial space, causing significant pain and discomfort. If left untreated, it can lead to issues with the rotator cuff.
- Rotator cuff tears – The type of rotator cuff injuries experienced by cricketers are slightly different to those experienced by contact sport athletes. Degenerative tears are the most common types experienced, which are caused by a gradual breakdown of the tendon. Again, this is caused by the repetitive motions used during the sport. They can start out as partial tears, but if left untreated can lead to a full thickness tear which would require surgery to fix.
Can cricketers prevent shoulder pain?
As much of cricket, particularly the fielding process, relies upon repetitive movements, does this mean shoulder injuries cannot be prevented? While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risks involved, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of developing a cricket-related shoulder injury.
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure you are using the correct bowling and batting techniques. It’s also helpful to build up the stability of the shoulder, through specially targeted strengthening exercises.
Finally, increasing your endurance gradually is also a good idea. This will help to specifically limit the chances of developing rotator cuff injuries.
Following the advice above can help to reduce your chances of developing shoulder injuries. However, equally as important is knowing when to seek treatment. The majority of cricketers simply play on, without seeking help for shoulder pain. This not only affects your performance, but it can also lead to more serious injuries which could have a significant, long-term impact on your career.
If you suspect you or your player is suffering a cricket shoulder injury, an orthopaedic surgeon that specialises in the shoulder can provide speedy diagnosis and effective treatment.