Side strain usually results from a forceful contraction of the muscles responsible for both side-bending and twisting of the upper-body. Usually, bowlers are affected on their non-bowling arm side. A side strain usually occurs at the point when the bowling arm is cocked as the player approaches the crease to bowl. The muscles are particularly vulnerable at this point as they transition from a point of maximal stretch, very quickly into a strong and forceful contraction. The muscles affected are usually the internal and external oblique and the transversalis fascia, and the damage usually occurs at their attachment site onto the lower four ribs.
There have been cases recorded of ribs being cracked due to the force of the contraction (to give you a better understanding of the forces involved). If you do feel that you have done this, stop playing immediately. Ensure that an ice pack (not applied directly to the skin), wrapped in a damp tea towel/face cloth is best, is applied to the general area as quickly as possible, for no longer than 10 minutes. Re-apply this cryo-type therapy every hour for up to 4 hours. This will lessen the inflammation and damage internally as much as possible and help to kick start the healing process.
Ensure you get plenty of rest! Once your pain levels start to come down I recommend you book an appointment with your Osteopath who can advise you further with rehabilitative exercise and provide the appropriate treatment.
Always warm-up thoroughly. This is the key. Start with a gentle jog and gradually build up the intensity. Include appropriate stretches and finally finish with activity specific exercise (so if you are a bowler, go and bowl some slower balls in a net, gradually building up to full speed).
Author: Diego Bresiani
Profession: Osteopath at Perfect Balance Clinic