Baseball is such a uniquely American sport, and for many people, it’s just part of summer. But, if you play, you’re at risk for injury — especially if you’re not especially active otherwise, or if it’s been a while since you last played, you play often, or you’re older.
It’s great to enjoy a sport, and can improve your physical health, contribute to better mental health, and provide a social outlet. The expert providers at Orthocenter don’t want to discourage you from living an active lifestyle that includes sports. We offer sports medicine and provide treatment for sports injuries, and also encourage you to avoid injury if you can!
The risks of baseball
If you think about how baseball players move, it’s easy to see why some injuries are common. For example, strained oblique muscles happen often because players exert such force while rotating the trunk while batting and throwing the ball. Thumb injuries also happen often because players catch balls traveling at high speeds.
In this post, we look at three of the most common baseball injuries, but they are certainly not the only ones!
1. Overuse injuries
Overuse injuries are incredibly common and can occur because of certain work activities, or hobbies, or from playing a sport such as baseball. One of the most well-known examples of an overuse injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.
In baseball, an extremely common type of overuse injury occurs in the elbow. Your ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) gives your elbow stability, and throwing a ball repeatedly can lead to weakness or tears in the UCL.
2. Rotator cuff injuries
Your shoulder is an amazing joint, and gives you incredible mobility, but it can also be prone to injury, especially if you put the kind of stress on it that baseball players do. Throwing a ball puts quite a lot of pressure on the structures in your shoulder.
The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that hold the top of your arm bone in the shallow depression of your shoulder blade. These tissues can become weakened and strained over time. Essentially they are injured over and over again, and eventually, the risk of a bigger injury such as a tear, becomes unavoidable.
3. Ankle sprain
Although you’ve probably heard someone say “it’s just a sprain” referring to an ankle injury, sprains can be very serious. Baseball players run, slide, jump to catch balls, and generally have plenty of opportunities to injure their ankles. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to chronic ankle instability.
How to protect yourself
Taking a few precautions can help you protect yourself and avoid injury. Here are some of our best tips:
Get a physical exam
If you’re just joining a league, or you play semi-professionally or on a regular team, get a physical exam before the season begins. Identifying potential problems before you get hurt gives you a chance to strengthen weaknesses or get appropriate treatment.
Always warm up
It’s so easy to skip the warm up and get right to the fun part, but it’s a recipe for injury. You should also include some specific movements and stretches for your shoulders, hamstrings, and back.
Again, it may be tempting to skip the cool down and just hang out with your team, or race home to cook dinner. But taking a few minutes to stretch can keep your muscles flexible and may also help you avoid being sore the next day.
Baseball is a warm weather activity, and you don’t want to deal with dehydration.
Cross training gives you the chance to give your body some balance. You can strengthen weak muscles, improve your balance, and potentially prevent injury.
If you’d like to learn more about common baseball injuries and how to prevent them, schedule an appointment at any of the convenient locations of Orthocenter.