Beware the head, shoulder, knee, and toe injuries of baseball. America’s favorite pastime is back in full swing. As we all prepare to cheer on our favorite teams — from tee-ball to MLB, let’s also make sure to discuss how to avoid injuries this season.
For youth baseball, traumatic brain injuries account for 6% of all injuries. Concussions are also among the top 10 injuries that caused players to miss games (Frontiers in Neurology, 2017). This is why wearing properly fitting helmets is crucial.
Shoulder: Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff is a set of tendons that attaches the upper arm bone to the socket of the shoulder and gives it a wide range of motion. Since baseball requires a lot of overhead motion for players, rotator cuff tears are a fairly common injury. Symptoms can include pain that worsens when lifting the arm overhead, a deep ache in the shoulder, and weakness. Rotator cuff tear prevention starts with using proper throwing technique, exercising all muscles in your shoulder, and warming up.
Knees: ACL and MCL Injury
Tears in the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) are some of the most frequent baseball-related knee injuries. They’re two of the four ligaments in the knee that reinforce the joint and facilitate its range of motion. Tearing either of them tends to result in pain and swelling. ACL tears are frequently accompanied by a distinct popping sound and are likely to be caused by wear and tear over time. MCL tears are typically caused by acute trauma. Proper warm-up, stretching, and strengthening are key to the prevention of these injuries.
Toes: Turf Toe, Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis
(and other foot conditions)
Turf toe is a painful injury to the base of the big toe at the joint when an athlete forcefully jams the toe into the ground or bends the toe backward. The immediate treatment of turf toe is to control the swelling and inflammation with RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) along with anti-inflammatory medications are usually helpful. Wearing a stiff-soled shoe during healing can help, too.
Achilles tendinitis unsurprisingly affects the Achilles tendon. Because it connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and lower legs get such a workout in baseball, it’s a common problem. For healing, it can require more than six months of rest.
Plantar fasciitis tends to affect more basketball players, but baseball players aren’t exempt from the condition. It occurs when the tendon that runs from the toes to the heel becomes inflamed. It’s generally treatable with physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening. Splinting the foot at night and using arch supports are also helpful. Always make sure you have enough arch support and warm-up.
If the injured list is calling your name…
Overall, prevention for many injuries comes down to proper conditioning, warm-up, and gear; however, life happens. If you find yourself or your favorite baseball player in pain, give Beacon a call. One of our specialists can help. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.