The 5 Most Common Baseball Injuries & How to Prevent/Treat Them
Mar 25, 2020
There are many things that are quintessentially American — and baseball is somewhere near the top of that list. It’s entertaining, family-friendly, and a great sport. But, as with any athletic activity, it also carries the risk of injury. Learning how to recognize symptoms is essential to obtain treatment as soon as possible — so that you can get back to doing what you love most. What are these injuries? How do you treat them? And, is there any way to prevent them?
What are the most common baseball injuries?
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The shoulders are ball-and-socket joints composed of the humerus (the upper arm, with a ball at the top) and the scapula (the socket). They’re held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Whenever one of these muscles, tendons, or ligaments suffer a tear — either partially or completely — you’ll experience swelling, and a nagging shoulder pain that radiates down the arm and increases with movement. Rotator cuff injuries also can be identified by a clicking sound when you lift your arms. If you’re experiencing symptoms, seek treatment as soon as possible. Failing to do so could lead to a frozen shoulder or a permanent loss of your full range of motion.
How to prevent it: You can prevent rotator cuff injuries by doing stretching exercises designed to preserve the range of motion of your shoulders.
Shoulder instability occurs when the ball portion of the joint does not remain in the socket. This results in the joint becoming lose (subluxation) or becomes fully dislodged from the socket (dislocation). It can be the result of repetitive stress to the joint. Symptoms include pain, swelling, a diminished range of motion, and a sensation of having a loose shoulder. People with this condition often experience shoulder dislocations. Treatment requires anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. As a last resort, surgery may be required to restore the joint.
How to prevent it: To lower the risk of shoulder instability, make sure to incorporate several strength training exercises specifically designed to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint.
The labrum is the ring of cartilage that cushions the socket in your shoulder joint. When this part of the body is injured, you’ll experience a clicking or grinding sensation and a limited range of motion of the shoulder. There are three types of shoulder labral tears — SLAP, Bankart, and posterior.
SLAP tears occur on the front of the labrum — SLAP standing for superior labrum, anterior to posterior. This is the most common type of labral tear to occur to baseball players since it’s mostly caused by repeated overhead arm motions. Depending on the severity of the tear, treatment may range from extended rest and over-the-counter painkillers to physical therapy or arthroscopic surgery.
How to prevent it: There are several things you can do to lower the risk of a shoulder labral tear. These include:
- Do strength-training exercises to strengthen the shoulders.
- Warm-up and stretch prior to every practice and baseball game.
- Learn proper sliding into base techniques to avoid injuring your shoulders.
Hamate Hook Fractures
Where your forearm ends and the wrist begins, there are several small bones — the Capitate, lunate, pisiform, and hamate. The hamate is a square-shaped bone located below the ring and small finger. It’s prone to injury in athletes who play sports that involve gripping and swinging an object — such as a golf club or a bat. It can occur when the bat handle strikes the hamate hook on top of the bone. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and weakness of the grip. Treatment often requires immobilizing the wrist until the bone heals. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary, and recovery can take between four to six weeks.
How to prevent them: The best way to prevent hamate hook fractures is to wear batting gloves with relief zones every time you’re going to bat. You should also use proper technique when making the swinging movement.
This condition is popularly known as golfer’s or baseball elbow. It consists of pain where the tendons in the forearm attach to the inside part of the elbow — and it radiates all the way down to the wrist. Symptoms also include numbness and/or tingling, stiffness, and weakness; and they become exacerbated when making a swinging movement. It’s caused by damage to the muscles and tendons around your wrist and fingers as a result of repetitive movements — such as throwing a ball or swinging a bat. Typically, it can be treated with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and icing the area. However, if you have a fever, the skin feels warm to the touch, or you can’t bend your elbow, seek medical attention — as these could be indications of a more serious injury.
How to prevent it: There are several things you can do to prevent baseball elbow. These include the following:
- Strengthen the muscles in your forearm.
- Warm-up and stretch before every practice and game.
- Talk with your coach to ensure you’re throwing/swinging with proper form.
- Take rest days — do so regularly and at the first sign of pain.
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