5 tips for baseball injury prevention

April 18, 2016

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Consider these five tips on injury prevention.

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in America. Approximately 2 million children in America play youth baseball. However, it is also one sport that is common to overuse injuries. Many baseball players, young and old, experience injuries that keep them out of the game they love.

What are the most common baseball injuries?

There are a few different injuries that tend to plague baseball players in particular. Luckily, none of them are dire. They include:

  • Muscle pulls and strains
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Ligament tears.

"Players often experience injuries because of a contact hit from a bat, ball or other person."

Even though baseball is a non-contact sport, players often experience injuries because of contact from a bat, ball or other person. Overuse injuries are also common because of the repetitive motions of the game, and because many athletes play in more than one league. Often, athletes experience overuse injuries to their shoulders or elbows, especially if they are pitchers. These injuries are caused when continuous motion irritates a joint and causes it to become inflamed, causing the person pain and stiffness and preventing them from participating.

"Spinal injuries and chronic back pain from torn muscles and herniated discs are all too common for baseball players," Bryan J. Massoud, MD, OASIS Orthopedic & Spine Integrated Services Founder and Chief Surgeon, told the Daily Record.

Players need to exert a large amount of power to hit the ball or throw it, and this torque can cause the muscles involved in the motion, such as the lower back and arms, to tear and or become herniated.

Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid this strain and subsequent baseball injuries. Consider these seven tips on how to prevent baseball injuries.

Implementing safety rules is critical, especially for youth players. Implementing safety rules is critical, especially for youth players.

1. Regularly undergo physical exams
Annual physical exams are a must to make sure that everything is working as it should. If players miss this exam, they could be putting themselves at risk during the game for a variety of reasons. Physical exams help rule out a variety of health conditions, including orthopaedic problems. For instance, a player might have injured his knee unknowingly while playing a casual pick-up game with his friends, and now the joints surrounding that knee are inflamed and susceptible to further injury. Exams can also look into player's heart health, breathing issues and even minor problems such as allergies. If players have any of these issues, they need to be flagged and treated before the baseball season begins.

2. Stretch and warm the muscles
Before doing any physical activity, people should be sure to warm up their muscles and stretch them out. This preventative measure helps blood move through the muscles and lubricates the joints, making it easier to engage in strenuous play. If muscles and joints are cold and stiff and they attempt to engage in rigorous activity, there could be dire consequences. People might tear a muscle or pop a ligament out of place simply because they did not take five minutes to stretch and move around. There are a few different ways players can warm up, including jogging the bases, jogging in place, doing jumping jacks or doing high knees and butt kicks. These light cardio moves will not expend too much energy but can help players' muscles get to where they need to be.

3. Wear the right equipment
If baseball players do not wear the right equipment for their role or wear gear that is too big or too small for them, they are putting themselves at risk of injury. They also are putting themselves in danger if they choose to wear the equipment incorrectly, even if it is during practice or warm ups. Though it might not seem like a big deal at the time, not protecting certain bones and the head can cause them serious damage. All baseball equipment should be put on and secured before players step onto the field, even if they are waiting to bat. Players should wear gear of the proper size that is comfortable to play in. If the players are participating in a youth baseball league, coaches should consider using softer baseballs in case players are hit.

4. Practice the correct technique
Injuries can also occur because people are not practicing or playing correctly. They might be throwing the ball incorrectly or swinging the bat in a way that puts themselves and others at risk. When dealing with youth baseball players, these injuries are common. When running the bases, players might deal with overextension injuries or ones caused by collisions. If they are under the age of 10, players should not be sliding into bases. If they are older, they should be taught the correct technique by trainers that work with the team. When it comes to pitching and batting, players should work with their coaches about the right techniques and the wrong ones that can lead to injury.

Coaches should also be mindful of preventing overuse injuries. When training pitchers, they should incorporate pitch counts. Players, especially young ones, should not be pitching more than required. If coaches are aware that players are involved in more than one league at the same time, they should reduce their pitch count even further. For instance, players between the ages of 8 and 10 should only be pitching 75 times a week. If they exceed that number during games and practices, they could be straining their muscles. Players should not learn about many of the different types of pitching until they are in their late adolescence.

5. Keep the environment safe
Players should always practice and play in a safe environment. All of the bases should be solid and placed correctly, and none of the equipment should be broken. These small details can make the difference between a safe game and a dangerous one.

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