Cricket Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Cricket stretches to improve your performance and do away with cricket injuries for good.
by Brad Walker | First Published October 14, 2010 | Updated November 12, 2018
Like athletics, cricket requires a proper strength, conditioning and stretching program. By diligently following a series of cricket stretches, players can improve their sporting ability and avoid the various injuries associated with the game.
Muscles used in Cricket
Batting, bowling and fielding are the three main activities in cricket. Depending on the activity, various different upper and lower body structures are involved. The head, neck and cervical spine muscles bear a lot of stress in cricket.
- In batting, the upper limb structures, such as the phalanges and metacarpal bones play a significant role.
- Bowling places a great deal of stress on the core muscles; particularly the lower back muscles and hips. Bowling also relies heavily on the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder.
- For players taking care of the field, cricket stretches should particularly focus on the muscles needed for throwing. These include the pectoral muscles, the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, and the forearm muscles.
- Since a lot of running is involved for all cricket players, significant focus on the hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles must be included in cricket training.
Most Common Cricket Injuries
The three elements that make up the game of cricket, (batting, bowling and fielding), each carry associated risk of injury. Injuries may be either of an acute or chronic nature, the latter resulting from overuse. The repetitive nature of the game combined with long periods of play on the field produce a wide range of injuries, which may involve nearly any part of the body
Indirect injuries include muscle, ligament and tendon damage sustained during play. In the head and neck area, cricket players are vulnerable to muscle spasms and strains, particularly in the cervical spine. Such spasms and strains are likewise common in the trunk. Muscle strains, spasms and stress fractures can also occur in the lumbar spine, abdominal muscles, and ribs.
Upper limb injuries include fractures of the phalanges and metacarpal, joint injuries and shoulder injuries, (most commonly involving the rotator cuff). Lower limb injuries include muscle strains and tears (commonly in the quadriceps and hamstring), joint conditions as well as injuries to the knee, ankle and patella.
Acute injuries may include those caused by direct blows, which can occur when a player is struck by the ball, collides with another player, or runs into a hard impediment, such as the boundary fence. Wicket-keepers are vulnerable to trauma injuries, especially when receiving a fast delivery. Fielders are at risk both for direct trauma injuries from the ball and injury caused by sliding into the boundary fence.
The bowling phase in cricket produces large amounts of stress to the spine, leaving players vulnerable to degenerative ailments and bony abnormalities including spondylosis and spondylolisthesis. Stress fractures are common, particularly in the metatarsal bones, fibula and tibia.
Wicket-keepers in cricket are vulnerable to osteoarthritis of the knees as a result of repeated squatting, as well as in the joints of the hand, from repeatedly catching the ball. A variety of other injuries related to running, throwing or catching are also seen and include:
Impingement syndrome, degenerative rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis of the biceps, or tearing of the supraspinatus tendon. Frequent running predisposes cricket players to stress fractures, shin splints, patellar tendonitis and tearing of running related leg muscles.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Proper warm up prior to play and comprehensive conditioning and technique training are all essential in cricket, and may help to avoid some of the more common injuries, particularly those due to overuse, as well as strains and tears of muscle or tendon.
Additionally, the following steps should be taken to protect athletes from common cricket injuries:
- A front-on or side-on approach to the wicket lowers the degree of rotational stress in the lower back and may help avoid conditions like spondylolysis and facet joint arthrosis.
- Attention to field conditions is critical. Wet, uneven or obstructed playing surfaces pose considerable risk of injury.
- As summer athletes, cricket player are at risk for heat related injuries including dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and skin cancer. Players should maintain proper hydration and use sunscreen to protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet rays.
- In-fielders and batsmen should always wear properly-fitting helmets (including visor). Such protection is critical to prevent injuries to the eyes or face.
- Proper footwear helps protect the feet from injury, should they be struck by the ball.
The Benefits of Cricket Stretches
- Appropriate cricket stretches before a match, in combination with dynamic warm-up movements, increases the chance of optimal performance in long matches.
- Regular cricket stretching exercises make it possible for fielders to provide the explosive bursts that are required to reach for a catch or to stop the ball.
- Regular cricket stretches also helps to safeguard players against common sports injuries like tendinitis and muscle strains.
Despite the numerous benefits, it is important to bear in mind that stretching can have detrimental effects when done incorrectly. Improperly done stretches can over time cause permanent damage to ligaments and joint. When performing the cricket stretches below, be sure to warm up first and if any of the exercises cause pain or severe discomfort, discontinue immediately. Review my article on the rules for safe stretching for more information.
The Top 3 Cricket Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for cricket; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions below each stretch.
Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.
Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
Elbow-out Rotator Stretch: Stand with your hand behind the middle of your back and your elbow pointing out. Reach over with your other hand and gently pull your elbow forward.
Watch the Cricket Stretches below
Click on the play button below to watch the 10 minute cricket stretching exercises video.
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