Baseball is the ultimate hallmark of American culture. It is the epitome of our country’s pursuit of the dream of success. This glory comes with associated pressure and risks. Every position in the sport is under risk of serious injury that could affect a player’s career longevity and their ability to perform the activities of daily living. With the current baseball season having recently passed the halfway point, we’re noticing more and more players out on the injury list. This blog will focus on injuries to the shoulder, wrist, and elbow. We will discuss further how playing baseball can cause these injuries, and what can be done to prevent them.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is made up of a series of complex muscles and tendons that help to stabilize the shoulder. Pitchers are particularly vulnerable to rotator cuff injuries, but every player on the field is required to throw or catch the ball for nine innings. Improper stretches and warm-ups can add tension to cause these injuries alongside aggressive, stressful motions of the shoulder. Age is a factor as well.
The common symptom is usually shoulder pain and swelling, but at times a baseball player may lose their ability to rotate their shoulder.
A torn rotator cuff is often a season ending injury, and could end a player’s career if it isn’t properly treated.
Perform strength training exercises, flexibility exercises, dynamic stretches, and static stretches. Make sure to consult a trainer or a physical therapist in regards to your routine.
Wrist Trauma Injuries and Wrist Tendonitis
Often times, wrist injuries usually result from sustaining an impact with the ball, the ground, or another player. Wrist tendonitis, also called tenosynovitis, is when tendons, ligaments, or other soft tissues are ruptured, torn, tender, or swollen. It is often associated with weakness, pain, and inflammation.
Avoid intense weight and force when your wrist is extended. When not playing, make sure to use both hands when lifting heavy objects. You also may need to change the length of your bat. Make sure you’re working closely with your coach and trainers to properly condition yourself to avoid injury.
UCL injuries and Tommy John Surgery
Possibly the most common and famous kind of injury associated with baseball is an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) elbow injury, requiring the infamous Tommy John Surgery. Named after ‘The Bionic Man’ Tommy John, a pitcher and first recipient of the surgery, Tommy John Surgery uses ligaments taken from other parts of the body or a donated body to help reconstruct the joint. The UCL helps to stabilize the inner elbow. The UCL is under consistent stress from any throwing motions, which often results in weaker ligaments and soft tissue tears.
An ulnar collateral ligament injury is signified by elbow pain that gets worse as time goes on or a decrease in control and speed of a pitch or throw. It is common for players to know exactly when they sustained the injury. They usually recall a popping sensation and subsequent pain.
To prevent UCL injuries warm up slowly, limit your pitch count, and treat rest as if it were a mandated part of training. Most importantly, don’t pitch when your arm hurts. Make sure to work with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to avoid injury.
If you, a team mate, or a loved one has suffered from a baseball related injury, schedule an appointment with Healthpointe today.