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Shoulder injuries in fast bowlers are surprisingly not as common as you might think. A recent injury survey study showed that over 11 seasons from the Australian cricket board reported that 1.4% of injuries are accounted to the shoulder (Orchard, et al), although it has been thought this may be a much larger problem.
How often do shoulder injuries occur in cricket?
In throwing the shoulder is required for both stabilization and generation of power. But in fact the velocity is generated from the trunk rather than the shoulder.
Goals of throwing are hard, accurately and effectively. It has been shown that with bowling the optimum height is dependent on the mid back and shoulder coupling to optimize velocity and acceleration curve. Therefore, adequate shoulder biomechanics are important.
It has been found in Australian cricket publications that tendons are at lowest risk with consistent workloads and suspectable to injury with sudden upgrades in workload. Gradual upgrades are recommended particularly at the start of the bowlers career to reduced risk of bone stress injury, and the greatest risk factor for muscle injuries have been shown to be playing short form cricket. Hence it has been shown that muscle injuries are not related to high pace bowling workloads (Orchard et al 2015, Hulin et al, 2014, Dennis et al 2003).
Research has also shown that with the injuries of bowlers and fielders, 90% of them are from overhead throwing actions with possible causes being reduced shoulder blade control ( players presenting with a downward rotated shoulder blade), shoulder restriction with turning the shoulder inwards (internal rotation), and reduced strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder (rotator cuff). It has been found that most cricketers have an increase in movement with turning the shoulder outwards (external rotation).
An injury study of elite Australian cricketers it was found matches were missed due to injuries by pace bowlers (14%), spin bowlers (4%), batsmen (4%) and wicket keepers (2%) (Orchard et al. 2002). And it has been shown that there is a 3-4 week delay between high workload and increased risk of injury. In fact it is workload which increases risk of shoulder injury (Orchard, 2009). In a New Zealand study it has been revealed that injuries are sustained during bowling 49% the time.
If you’re feeling a niggle in your shoulder this cricket season it could be that your shoulder blade and shoulder joint rhythm and control need to be addressed, or a strengthening programme implemented to facilitate this. Give us a call on 9252 5770.