Baseball is a popular sport worldwide, especially in the USA. In Australia, it is true that baseball has not gotten enough popularity due to other sports’ popularity. But, many Australian players are playing in several major baseball leagues in the USA.
As baseball is a game of speed, movement, and pace, injuries are common. Most common baseball injuries include knee injuries, elbow, and shoulder injuries. In this blog, we will discuss common baseball injuries and their prevention tips. Read further to know more about baseball's most common injuries.
Most common baseball injuries
It is true that players and teams use many advanced safety measures and gears to protect them from injuries. But, it is nearly impossible and not feasible to avoid injuries completely. In this section, we will discuss some common baseball injuries based on body parts and player roles.
Common baseball arm injuries
Shoulder tendonitis is a common injury in baseball players caused by repetitive throwing motions. The supraspinatus tendon, which is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint, is particularly vulnerable to this injury. The repetitive stretching and contracting of the tendon can lead to inflammation and microscopic tears, resulting in pain and weakness.
Treatment for shoulder tendonitis typically includes rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, physical therapy may also be necessary.
Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. In baseball pitchers, the rotator cuff is under a lot of stress during the pitching motion, which can lead to tears in the tendons or muscles. Repeated overhead throwing, especially at high velocity, can increase the risk of injury.
Treatment for rotator cuff injuries in baseball players typically includes rest, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
Baseball pitchers are at an increased risk of labral tears, which are injuries to the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. The repetitive overhead throwing motion that pitchers use places a great deal of stress on the shoulder joint and labrum, which can lead to tears.
Elbow Ligament Sprain/Tear (UCL)
UCL injuries are common in baseball players, especially pitchers. They are caused by repetitive stress on the elbow joint. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, and difficulty moving the arm. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Prevention tips include warming up and stretching properly, using proper form, avoiding excessive pitching, and using a weighted ball to strengthen the arm muscles.
Bicep Tendon Ruptures
Bicep tendon tears in baseball can severely limit a player's ability to throw. These tears are often caused by repetitive stress on the throwing arm and improper throwing technique.
With proper rehabilitation, players can usually return to full playing strength. However, it is important to understand how to avoid putting excessive stress on the arm and to use proper throwing techniques to prevent future injuries.
Common Baseball Shoulder Injuries
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are injuries that occur when tissues are stretched beyond their limits. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is a band of tissue that connects bones together. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, which is a band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. In severe cases, sprains and strains can result in a tear.
SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. It is an injury to the top part of the labrum, a ring of cartilage that helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. Symptoms of a SLAP injury can include catching or locking in the shoulder, pain with certain movements, and weakness.
Over time, repetitive throwing in athletes can stretch the ligaments in the shoulder, causing them to become looser. This looseness, known as laxity, can lead to subluxation, which is when the shoulder slightly slips out of place. If the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that help stabilize the shoulder, is not strong enough to control the laxity, then subluxation is more likely to occur. A subluxation can be painful and can also lead to further injury.
Tendonitis is an inflammation of a tendon, which is a tough band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. It can be caused by overuse, injury, or repetitive motions. Throwers are particularly prone to rotator cuff tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons that surround the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff tendonitis can range in severity from mild to severe. Mild cases may cause pain only during certain activities, such as throwing or lifting. More severe cases can cause pain at rest and may limit the range of motion.
In baseball, shoulder dislocations typically occur during collisions or other traumatic events, such as sliding into a base, diving for a catch, or colliding with another player. However, if shoulder instability is left untreated, it can also lead to a dislocation.
Common Elbow injuries in baseball
Repeated throwing can cause inflammation and irritation of the flexor tendons, which attach to the humerus bone on the inner side of the elbow. The repetitive motion of throwing puts stress on these tendons, which can cause them to become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion in the elbow. In severe cases, it can even cause a tear in the tendon.
Valgus Extension Overload (VEO)
When you throw a ball, the bones in your elbow rub against each other. This can wear down the cartilage in your elbow and cause bone spurs to form. Bone spurs can cause pain and limited range of motion.
To prevent elbow pain from throwing, warm up your arm, use proper throwing mechanics, don't throw too much, too often, take breaks when you feel pain, and strengthen the muscles in your arm and shoulder.
When muscles are overworked, they can become fatigued and unable to absorb the shock of repetitive movement. This can lead to the transfer of stress from the muscle to the bone, which can cause a tiny crack called a stress fracture.
Throwing athletes are at risk of developing ulnar neuritis, a condition that occurs when the ulnar nerve, which runs along the inside of the elbow, is repeatedly stretched. This stretching can cause the nerve to become irritated, leading to pain and numbness that radiates from the elbow down to the small finger.
Common baseball wrist injuries
Hamate bone injury, also known as the hook of hamate, is one of the most common injuries in baseball. This is because baseball players exert a lot of force and extract quickly during swings and catches. Wrist injuries are common among both hitters and pitchers.
The hamate bone is part of the wrist structure and sits at the base of the palm below the little finger. It can be injured by pitchers, hitters, and catchers due to the repetitive, high compression forces on the bone during a swing or catch.
Baseball injuries prevention tips
Let’s discuss some important tips to prevent baseball injuries.
Based on Player Roles
- For pitchers: Gradually increase your pitch count over time. Don't try to throw too many pitches too soon, or you could risk an injury.
- For batters: Wear a protective jacket to help prevent injuries from being hit by a ball.
- For baserunners: Slide into bases safely to avoid injuries to your legs and ankles.
Baseball Injury Prevention Tips
- Warm up properly before throwing. This includes dynamic stretches, such as arm circles and leg swings, as well as some light cardio. Warming up helps to prepare your muscles for activity and reduces your risk of injury.
- Take part in preseason and in-season baseball strength and conditioning programs. This will help to build muscle strength and endurance, which can help to prevent injuries.
- Avoid year-round playing. Give the body a chance to rest and recover. Playing different sports helps ensure that the same muscles aren't used all the time.
- Use appropriate equipment and wear it correctly. This includes wearing a batting helmet, shin guards, and a catcher's mask.
- Use proper throwing mechanics. This will help to reduce stress on your arm and shoulder.
- Listen to your body and take breaks. When you need them to take a break and rest. If you're feeling pain, stop playing and rest.
In the end, comprehending and preventing all the mentioned injuries is not essential. Instead, follow a few straightforward steps to safeguard yourself. Prior to practice or a match, ensure you warm up adequately and stretch. If you experience increasing pain in a specific area, it's crucial to stop immediately. If you encounter any injury or complication during spring training in arizona or after a game, it is vital to promptly seek assistance from a healthcare professional to prepare yourself for a safe return to the field.