When the topic of athletic injuries comes up, baseball isn’t often high on the list of concerns due to its lack of physical contact between players. There are, however, risks of sprains, strains tears and soreness for baseball players of any age or level. Below are several tips on how to avoid the most common mishaps while playing America’s pastime.
Preserve your arms and shoulders
The most obvious risk of injury in baseball is the overuse of arms and shoulders. This can result in shoulder fatigue and tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), especially for pitchers and particularly when pitching curveballs and sliders, which put more stress on the elbow. Fatigue and inflammation can be avoided by keeping track of how many and what kinds of pitches are being thrown, whether it’s during practice, warm-ups or during the game.
It’s also important to be mindful of how many games are being played per season. It’s not uncommon for players today to participate in leagues, regular season games or travel teams all year round; resting for part of the year, however, can mean more years of overall play.
Stretch and Strengthen
Protect your muscles, ligaments and joints! One reason many people don’t associate baseball with risk of injury is the amount of standing, but this is actually one of the reasons injuries happen. With the combination of short sprints and standing in between plays, it’s important to thoroughly stretch your arms, legs, back, and core muscles to avoid stiffness. Lack of stretching is often how injuries like pulled muscles and twisted ankles happen; failing to stretch will likely leave you with soreness or worse.
Since most of the activity in baseball is anaerobic—short and intense—it’s important to strengthen the muscles that you utilize most during the game. Conditioning exercises focused on speed and agility will prepare your muscles for playing.
Play it safe
Accidental injuries can happen no matter how well you take care of your body. Being aware of your surroundings is key to a safe game of ball.
• Before swinging a bat, take a look around you. Make sure you have enough space to swing without hitting anyone.
• When playing catch, make sure your partner is looking at you when you throw the ball—no surprises! Also avoid playing catch close to others, who may get hit by a stray ball.
• Raise your voice on the field—communication when going after a ball will help you avoid collisions with teammates.
• Be aware of the weather and your body’s reaction to it. Don’t forget to hydrate in hot or dry conditions, or you’ll experience dehydration or muscle cramps.
For more information on how to keep your body safe and ready to play ball, visit www.affinityhealth.org/Affinity/Services/orthopedic.htm.