Knee injuries

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As in any sport, the cricketer’s knees take a battering. Sudden changes of direction while running flat-out between wickets, or hitting the ground after jumping to catch a ball, all take their toll on the knee caps.

Jumper’s knee

Symptoms:

•  Pain underneath the kneecap
•  Aching and stiffness after exertion
•  Pain when contracting one’s quadriceps

There are two grades of injury:

Grade one jumper’s knee is when the pain only occurs after training

Grade two jumper’s knee is when your knee hurts before and after exercise, but the pain decreases once you have warmed up.

Patella tendinopathy is very common in all disciplines – bowling spin or fast bowling, batting, fielding, and wicket-keeping.  There is often a muscle imbalance between the outer thigh and inner thigh muscle complexes, with the outer thigh tighter and stronger than the inner thigh complex, which has a vital role in the knee and kneecap stability.  The inner thigh complex controls the tracking of the kneecap with movement, and when this is not happening correctly strain occurs at the patella tendon, resulting in pain and tissue break down.  Spinners usually get it on their pivot leg, fast bowlers in their front leg and players get it from the running (either between wickets or in the field) or diving directly onto the front of the knee.

Meniscal injuries also occur due to impact forces and twisting, turning and diving while in the field.

ITB (Iliotibial band) syndrome is also very common among cricketers, with similar causes as the patella tendinopathies. Contributors include tight muscles and fascia as high up as the lower back and gluteals down the lateral thigh complex, and weak/inactive  pelvic and abdominal stability muscles, allowing too much lateral pelvis movement. 

Less commonly, with more  violent  force, the player may rupture his anterior cruciate ligament, which may require referral  to a knee specialist

Content reviewed and enhanced by Dr Joe de Beer, a well-known orthopaedic specialist, and T-J Malherbe, a physiotherapist. Both are from Cape Town.

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