Shin and Calf Injuries : Cricket Injuries

The calf is a triceps surae muscle, running along the back of the lower leg, that attaches the heal bone or calcaneus to the back of the knee joint. The shinbone (shank or tibia bone) connects the knee joint to the ankle via ligaments for stability. Arteries in this area provide circulation and nerves provide the motor messages for movement of the lower leg. Cricket players are at risk of injuring the calf muscle, attaching tendons, connector ligaments or the tibia bone of the shin during the game.

Symptoms of Shin and Calf Injuries

A tear to a calf muscle or tendon when leaping to catch the cricket ball, or when rapidly exerting to bowl or bat by twisting the knee, will cause burning pain in that site, tightness, inflammation, bruising and limited ability to extend or contract the leg. There will also be pain in the heel or back of the knee depending on where the tear location is. A torn ligament will leave the lower leg feeling unstable with striking pain. If the shin bone is fractured, there will be a bulge with inflammation and swelling around the fracture site. Sharp pain will radiate from this point causing muscle spasms and numbness or weakness if nerves are trapped.

Causes of Shin and Calf Injuries

An inflexible calf muscle from lack of warming up before the cricket game or from insufficient hydration can cause shin splints or fractures to the shin bone. Another cause is overuse of the tibialis muscle with repetitive batting and bowling or poor running gait. Sudden acceleration or rapid change of movement during fielding can cause the calf muscle to tear away from the achilles tendon. Wearing sports shoes not appropriately supported or designed for cricket exercise can increase risk of injury. Not wearing protective cricket gear can result in fractures to the shin bone or ruptures to the calf when falling or being hit by the hard cricket ball at high velocity.

Medical Treatment of Shin and Calf Injuries

Initial self-remedy of stopping the cricket exercise, resting, applying ice or cold cloth to the injury location, compressing the site with bandage or tape, and raising the leg to reduce pressure on the calf muscle and shin bones, should be applied. If inflammation, pain, swelling, and bruising persist, or if there is tingling with numbness in the calf or shin, then medical attention should be sought immediately. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain, administer a steroid injection if necessary, refer for X-ray, ultrasound or MRI if considered severe, and if non-invasive physiotherapy exercise and massage does not heal the lower leg, then surgery may be the only option for recovery.

Preventing Shin and Calf Injuries

Preventative measures to shin and calf injury include: adequate hydration and diet for cricket sport, warming-up the muscles (particularly the calf muscle), resting during and between cricket games, not overstriding or overstretching the muscles of the shin and calf region that place stress on the shin bone, wearing supportive footwear or orthotics designed for cricket use, and applying correct cricket exercise techniques. Heel cushions or insoles support, and neoprene calf sleeves, are examples of orthotic devices that can reduce risk of shin and calf injury. Cricket professionals and physical therapists are worth consulting for advice.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved