With Indian wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha out of the fourth Test series against England because of a thigh injury, we decided to look at injuries that commonly affect wicket keepers. Saha suffered a muscle strain in his left thigh during India’s 246-run win in the second Test at Vizag, and is still recuperating from the injury. While this particular injury does not threaten his cricketing career, experts say that his condition will need to be monitored closely and he will need to maintain an adequate recovery period.
Common Wicket Keeper Injuries
You can’t be blamed for thinking that a wicket keeper’s role is the safest in a cricket team; after all, he is the only player on the field to be layered in protective gear, from a helmet and pads to special gloves and mouth guards. Despite the protection, wicket keepers are at significant risk of injury because of their very position in the bowler’s line of fire. As pointed out by researchers in a paper titled ‘The Wicket Keeper and Injury’, wicket keeping injuries can also stem from repetitive stress on certain joints and muscles because of their squatting posture for prolonged periods. Here are some of the most common wicket keep injuries that you should be wary of.
1. Back And Spinal Injuries In Wicket Keepers
Wicket keepers spend extended periods bending forwards and squatting behind the stumps that leaves them prone to chronic back pain. While protective gear may shield against contact injury, it offers little protection from such repetitive stress on the spine. Over time, players are vulnerable to muscle spasms and may experience restriction in spine movement, lower back pain, and numbness or tingling sensation in the feet.
2. Hand & Finger Injuries In Wicket Keepers
Wicketkeeper’s gloves today offer considerable protection, but finger and hand injuries remain the most common problem for wicket keepers. Because of their role in cricket, wicket keepers often experience high velocity hits on the fingers that may increase the risk of osteoarthritis of finger joints and recurrent collateral ligament damage. Excessive stretching of the joints from the impact of catches is also associated with tears in the connective tissue and ligaments of the fingers. Wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik also recently suffered a hairline fracture in the middle-finger on the right hand, which worsened after he continued to keep wickets for two of the following matches.
3. Groin Injuries In Wicket Keepers
Groin pulls and groin strain are common problems among wicket keepers because of rapid side to side twisting motions when trying to make a catch and also because of sudden twists to change direction. A groin pull may not be as threatening as other joint injuries, but the pain can be debilitating. Pain from a groin injury is usually localized and will be felt towards the side in which the muscle has been pulled or stretched.
4. Knee Injuries In Wicket Keepers
As expected, knee injuries in wicket keepers are typically a result of repetitive squatting or overuse, but the problem is exacerbated by running and jumping, or lunging for the ball as well. The most common knee injury in wicket keepers is Patellar Tendinopathy, a condition in which there is damage to the tissue and degeneration of the patella tendon, the connecting ligament between the shin bone and the kneecap. The injury causes severe pain at the front of the knee and the area is tender to touch because of inflammation and possible swelling. As shown in some studies, the long term risks are even greater, as wicket keeping increases the risk of early onset of osteoarthritis of the knees.
5. Shoulder Injuries In Wicket Keepers
An article published in the journal Physical Therapy in Sport suggests that shoulder injuries affect nearly a quarter of all professional cricketers, while another study found shoulder injuries to be the second most common sporting injury in cricketers. Wicket keepers are particularly vulnerable to shoulder impingement, which is the medical term used to describe compression of soft tissue in the region, such as rotator cuff tendons and subacromial bursa. The risk is higher for wicket keepers as they are often forced to dive and lunge for balls, landing in an awkward manner with excessive impact on the sides of the shoulders. The condition can vary in severity, causing aches and pain in the injured shoulder, with pain radiating to the upper arm, making it difficult to even raise the hand.
6. Thigh Injuries In Wicket Keepers
The thigh has three powerful muscles, including the hamstring, quadriceps, and adductor muscles. Wicket keepers may be susceptible to strains, pulls, or tears of these muscles because of constant squatting and sudden jumps or twists that stretch the muscle. Usually, this problem surfaces when the muscle is stretched beyond its natural limit, but it can also occur as a result of impact, as from a cricket ball. The hamstring and quadriceps are most vulnerable to this kind of injury and the pain can be excruciating. Failure to give the muscle adequate rest for healing and rehabilitation following injury significantly increases the risk of re-injury, which is already present.
What You Can Do To Prevent Sports Injuries
As is the case with most sports injuries, the risks can be significantly reduced through adequate safety measures and precautions.
– To begin with, practice and training are vital, whether you play amateur or professional cricket.
– Another universal rule in any sport is to begin with adequate warm-up and stretching to minimize the risk of ligament, muscle, and joint injuries.
– For a wicket keeper, posture is everything, as squatting with the knees completely bent puts tremendous pressure on the joints, which can be avoided by crouching with the knees bent just slightly, whilst keeping the feet flat on the ground. Some studies have shown that this variation in posture reduces the risk of knee damage, while it has no impact on sporting performance.
Wicket keepers should also be vary of risk factors that increase susceptibility to injury, such as muscle tightness, dehydration, and muscle fatigue. Conditioning of the muscles can only be increased through regular workouts and practice. Most importantly, remember that while sporting injuries are not always preventable, adequate rest and recovery is crucial before you return to the sport. Failing to adhere to such recommendations will only put you at greater risk of injury and you could also develop chronic problems that will end your sporting career.
- Dhillon, Mandeep S., Sharad Prabhakar, and Nirmal Raj. “The Wicketkeeper and Injury.” Journal of Postgraduate Medicine Education and Research47 (2013): 99-102. Web.
- Ahearn N, Bhatia R, Griffin S. Hand and wrist injuries in professional county cricket. Hand Surg. 2015;20(1):89-92. doi: 10.1142/S0218810415500124. PubMed PMID: 25609280.
- Shafi, Mohamed, MS, MCh, UK. “Cricket Injuries: An Orthopaedist’s Perspective.” Chinese Orthopaedic Association and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd, 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.
- Ranson C, Gregory PL. Shoulder injury in professional cricketers. Phys Ther Sport. 2008 Feb;9(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2007.08.001. PubMed PMID: 19083702.
- Kumar, Sumit, Kaur Jaspreet, Chaturvedi Rekha, S Kulandaivelan. “One year prevalence of musculoskeletal disorder among cricket Players in Haryana: A retrospective study.” International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, 2015. 2(2): 75-77. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.
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February 19, 2018