Despite the appearances of a slow-paced sport, baseball can present many opportunities for athletes to sustain injuries of all types. Pitchers need to know how to take care of their arms to prevent a shortened career. Of course, no matter what the position, athletes need to take the proper steps in order to avoid injuries.
Common Baseball Injuries
- Contusions (bruises) are difficult to avoid but can be minimized by wearing appropriate protective gear.
- Sprains and strains are common in baseball. A sprain is any injury to a ligament, which connects bone to bone. Follow a good warm-up program before practices and games to stay limber. For recurrent ankle sprains, ankle braces or taping, along with an ankle strengthening program, can help prevent the problem.
Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive use of certain muscles. They are common to young athletes at the peak of their growth potential. To prevent an overuse injury:
- Be aware of league guidelines for limiting pitches for young athletes. Pitching can be controlled by limiting the number of games pitched, innings pitched per week, pitches per game or the maximum length of time a game may continue to be played.
- Persistent shoulder pain caused by instability should be checked by an orthopaedic surgeon to rule out a more serious injury, such as a ligament tear.
- Persistent shoulder pain from rotator cuff tendonitis should be checked by an orthopaedic surgeon to rule out a more serious injury, such as a tnedon tear.
- Mallet finger, or baseball finger, is an injury to one of the tendons that helps straighten out the finger. It typically occurs if a baseball directly hits the tip of the player’s finger.
- The most common areas to become dislocated on a baseball player are the fingers and thumbs. Dislocation is identified by swelling, deformation of the joint and digit, pain and tenderness and possible discoloration of the wounded area.
Little league elbow is an injury to the growth plate on the inner side of the elbow. It often occurs in children and adolescents involved in sports that require repetitive throwing motions.
Assessing the severity of an injury can be difficult. When in doubt, seek the advice of a doctor.
Injuries may cause:
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of strength
For minor or more common injuries, think PRICEMM- Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Motion and Medicine. This will help to limit swelling and further tissue damage, maintain range of motion and return the athlete to the playing field as quickly and as safely as possible.
Seek immediate medical attention for any of the following:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and cartilage tears. Female players are especially at risk, because of weaker quadriceps and hamstring strength, muscle-firing patterns, the shape of their thighbones, estrogen ratios and sometimes poor pre-season conditioning.
- All athletes should stretch hamstrings and quadriceps and participate in strength-building exercises for these muscles, to help prevent serious injury.
- ACL injuries most often result from plant-and-twist motions. Adolescents have a high risk reoccurrence and a high potential for premature arthritis. Surgery is often necessary to repair ACL damage.
- Concussions are caused by a blow to the head. Symptoms may include confusion, short term memory problems and loss of consciousness.
- Fractures are breaks or disruptions in a bone. They may occur from one blow (acute) or from repetitive use (stress fracture). The severity ranges from mild hairline cracks to compound fractures breaking the skin.
- Hip and pelvis injuries canresult from sudden bursts of movement. These are actually injuries to growth plates (areas in the bone where bone growth occurs and muscles attach), which remain open until the late teens (after puberty). Avoid injury with proper pre-season and pre-event stretching of the leg and hip muscles.