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Although shoulder injuries in cricket don’t tend to be too troublesome for cricketers, rotator cuff injuries are seen in the game due to the strain placed on the shoulder joint during throwing and fielding.

The current T20 and one day games are an example of where higher demands are placed on athletes as there is increased emphasis on field fielding and throwing, affecting the rotator cuff. Overuse, poor technique, and inadequate rest and recovery can all contribute to the development of these injuries. 

We spoke to ISEH’s Ben Ashworth, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist who has vast expertise in shoulder injuries, to learn more about rotator cuff injuries in cricket and how to reduce the risk of injury; Ben shares helpful insight on this topic to help people to be more aware and informed.

Rotator cuff injury– tips and advice on how to avoid them in sports like cricket:

1.   Importance of adequate warm-up: It is extremely important to ensure that you get an adequate warm up prior to throwing at maximum intensity. This means some prior mobility work for the hips, thoracic spine and the shoulder to optimise the range of motion (these areas are crucial for throwing movements and require a good range of motion). It is then important to progressively load the shoulder from medium to high intensity and finish with some more ballistic throwing preparation.
2.   Technical throwing preparation: For this we can take a leaf out of the baseball manual - long toss throw and catch practice for longer distances at lower speeds is used to prepare the arm and the body for throwing and to coach more efficient throwing technique. 
3.   Strengthening the rotator cuff: A lot of emphasis is placed on light banded exercise to prepare a shoulder but in order to strengthen the rotator cuff higher resistance is needed. So incorporating some dumbbell isometric training or some cable work at medium resistances will be enough to build the necessary strength around the shoulder to protect it against throwing demands.
4.   Monitoring weekly workloads: This is advisable especially around throwing volume and intensity. Building up step by step rather than going from zero to hero will mean that the shoulder becomes conditioned to throwing and so there is less cost when exposed to the more intense aspects of training and competition.
5.   General recovery: General recovery is something that is of great benefit, and so looking after your shoulder after you have thrown immediately after the game and the next day with mobility work / soft tissue release, will be beneficial.  If there is any soreness or muscle tension, it is important to use the appropriate hot or cold techniques that can make a difference. (This is part of a post exercise recovery strategy to help tackle fatigue – it is key to first identify the type of fatigue to determine which technique would be best).

It’s important that cricketers pay attention to their shoulder health, incorporate proper training, conditioning, injury prevention measures and stretching routines, and seek medical attention if they experience persistent pain or discomfort in the shoulder area.

At our leading sport, exercise and health facility on Tottenham Court Road, Ben sees and treats patients for a host of sports and exercise related shoulder injuries from diagnosis through to recovery.