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 Sports And Injuries

April 2012
Strength And Power Defined By Your Role
Dr H P C Khincha
The game of cricket has got a different type of physical demand on a professional cricketer’s body. These physical demands can be classified into two categories: (i) general fitness; (ii) role specific fitness (dependent on the role of the player i.e. bowler, batsman, wicket-keeper)

General Fitness Parameters
  • Strength (upper body and lower body)
  • Power (upper body and lower body)
  • Speed
  • Speed endurance
  • Agility
  • Flexibility
Strength: Measure of the functional strength of a player’s upper and lower body
Power: Measure of how efficiently a specific upper body or lower body task is performed.
Speed: Measure of a player’s running speed i.e. acceleration and deceleration. (Cricket requires short bursts of activity i.e. a player in any position will be required to run a maximum of 20-30 meters at one stretch. For example, a fielder running to catch a ball, a bowler on his bowling run-up or a batsman running between wickets.)
Speed endurance: Measure of a player’s ability to sustain running over a period of time.
Agility: Measure of how quickly a player can turn and change directions on the field.
Flexibility: Measure of the flexibility of specific muscle groups. (It has been proved that a player can be more prone to injuries if he/she is not flexible.)

Every player will vary on testing of these general parameters. Also, the physical demands on these parameters will change based on the player specific role in the game. For example, a fast bowler will need to be scoring high on his power and speed endurance as he has to repeatedly run from his bowling mark to deliver the ball. A fielder needs to be very agile for sudden change in directions for fielding the ball efficiently.

I feel that all the players should score high on these general fitness parameters and score above the rest of the group on the skill-specific requirements.
Functional Training
The players should integrate as much functional training as possible in their routine:
  • Batsman would be training to reduce his running time between wickets.
  • Fielder would like to increase his agility and reflexes.
  • A bowler would like to work on his power to generate more ball speed and also work on his speed endurance to bowl for longer spells.
Format Spelt Variations
The training also varies according to the format of the game the player is preparing for, i.e. a bowler’s aim in preparation before a test series is to generate speed for longer spells and
hence work on his speed endurance, a batsman’s goal for preparation before a T20 tournament is to generate power for explosive shots and hence work on his upper and lower body power.

Incidence Of Injury
There have been some very good studies on the injury incidence and prevalence in cricketers. Most say that injuries are most prevalent in cricket’s fast bowlers in comparison to their other colleagues and the lower back is the most susceptible to injuries in cricket. Every player has his own share of injuries:
  • A fast bowler is susceptible to lower back and posterior impingement type of ankle injuries to the leading leg.
  • A fielder is more prone to agility related injuries like acute ankle sprains, shoulder injuries due to diving in an awkward position etc.
A batsman is more susceptible to workload related injuries like repeatedly overloading the forearm extensors and the patellofemoral joint at the knee leading to tennis elbow and patellofemoral dysfunction respectively.

In my opinion, any injury can be a threatening one for a specific player. For example a batsman developing a tennis elbow has to be resting the part appropriately for complete
pathophysiological resolution of the problem before he can return back to batting. The same goes with a bowler who has got a stress fracture in his lower back. The player has to allow the time for his fracture to heal before he can resume bowling.

Injury Profiling And Prevention
The emphasis should be on prevention nowadays by addressing proper prevention measures. The first step in this process is to establish the problem, i.e. identify the type of injuries prevalent by having proper injury profiling measures. The other measures to prevent injuries are addressing the hydration and nutrition strategies of the players, effective preparation and recovery strategies, execution of proper technique, use of protective equipment and proper physical conditioning.
Dr H P C Khincha is Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Bangalore

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