Understanding A Side Strain This Cricket Season

As the Ashes series begins, and the whites come out, what better time to explain a common cricket injury – the “Side Strain”Along with hamstring injuries, side strains are the most prevalent cricket injury in Australia, affecting up to 14% of pace bowlers per season. It seems the faster you bowl, the more inclined you are to injury.

So what is a side strain? A side strain injury is a tear to one of your abdominal muscles, either the internal oblique or external oblique muscles, or the fascia (or tissues) surrounding these. Interestingly, for a right-handed bowler, it is usually the opposite side of the abdomen that tears, and vice versa. The most common site of injury is where the oblique abdominal muscles attach to the ribs, and it can be rather painful and limiting. For a bowler, the tear occurs as you wind up into the bowling action. As your non-bowling arm cocks up, you open up on the obliques facing the batsman (we call this ‘eccentric’ activity), and then sharply contract these muscles (’concentric’) to provide some of the slinging motion of delivering the bowl. It is this eccentric to concentric motion of the muscle that causes wear, and this repeated over and over can lead to injury. In fact, studies have shown that bowling 20 overs during a week makes you almost twice as likely to develop a side strain compared to bowling less, or not at all.

Studies are inconclusive on which fast bowling technique is more prone to side strain – i.e. whether you use a side on technique, front on, semi open or a mixed action technique. There does seem to be a slight difference in when the internal and external oblique muscles activate within these techniques, but further research needs to be done to confirm if, or how, this plays a part in side strain injuries.

If you suspect you have developed a side strain from rolling the arm over come in and see one of our Sports Physiotherapists at Bend + Mend. We have three convenient locations across the Sydney CBD.

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