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By Daren Overmiller
Baseball season is here!
Unfortunately, along with all the fun and excitement, comes injuries. As with many sports, there are two common types of baseball and softball injuries – impact and overuse.
Impact, or traumatic injuries, are caused by sudden contact with the ground, an object, or another player. Common causes of impact injuries in baseball or softball include being struck by a bat or ball or colliding with another player. Common overuse baseball injuries are those that occur from excessive use of the wrist, arm and shoulder joints from pitching and batting.
In baseball and softball, the most common concern for traumatic injury is being struck in the head by the ball. When pitching a ball, only a small error can cause a batter to be hit, and when a ball is hit, it can come back to the pitcher or to an infielder in a hurry. As players age, the speed of the ball (both when thrown and hit) increases greatly. Unlike players in contact sports, such as football, in baseball only the batter or baserunners and the catcher are wearing a helmet or mask. So, if the ball connects with a player’s head while in the field, there is no protection.
Getting hit with a ball isn’t the only way to sustain a head injury in baseball. Players routinely collide with one another which can easily result in a blow to the head. With either type of hit to the head, there is a serious risk of concussion. The major symptoms of which are nausea, dizziness, headaches and confusion. Head injuries should never be taken lightly and if concussion is suspected, a trip to the emergency room is needed.
Overuse injuries often lead to long-term muscular pain and decreased range of motion in the wrists, elbows and/or shoulders. Therefore, overuse injury prevention must begin in the earliest stages of baseball. Baseball and softball involve a lot of pitching, which means using certain muscles, tendons and joints of the pitching arm over and over, potentially straining them. Incorrect form, pitching too often and for too long can lead to trouble for young players. Even professional players avoid pitching too often. To avoid a pitching injury, follow these following tips.
- Be aware of and respond to signs of fatigue, such as decrease in accuracy or ball speed, dropped elbow while pitching, taking more time between pitches and complaints of being tired.
- Limit the number of innings and pitches to what’s prescribed by your league.
- Learn and practice proper throwing skills.
- Do not serve as both pitcher and catcher in the same game.
- When in pain, stop pitching.
It’s also important to warm up and stretch before practices and games, paying close attention to the batting and throwing muscles. Warm up by pitching easy pitches to warm up the arm and shoulder, gradually progressing to harder, game-style pitches.
If an injury occurs, don’t play through the pain. This will only result in further injury. Use ice for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per day to help reduce inflammation. If pain does not decrease within a day or two, it may be necessary to seek further care. Misalignments in joints can cause injuries to heal slowly or improperly. For these cases, a visit to the chiropractor will be beneficial.
While baseball and softball are fairly safe sports and minor scrapes, bumps and bruises cannot be avoided, serious impact and overuse injuries can be minimized. A little common sense on the field, along with the right training and conditioning, can go a long way to preventing the most common injuries.
Dr. Daren Overmiller practices at Childress Specific Chiropractic, 210 Commerce St. in Childress, Texas. To contact Childress Specific Chiropractic, call 940-937-6600.