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As it begins to warm up, people around the country – especially in St. Louis – begin to think about baseball season. People get excited about watching baseball, playing baseball, and it all makes perfect sense – it’s America’s pastime! At Cardinal Glennon SportsCare, one of our main focuses in the spring is to keep our baseball players safe.
Baseball is a relatively safe sport, so injuries stemming from baseball are usually chronic, overuse injuries. Repetitive stress on the joints, especially in the elbow and shoulder, is the most common way a baseball player is injured. This happens because in young players, bones have not finished growing yet. When motions are repetitive, muscles and tendons can pull on the bones at the growth sites where they are most vulnerable. Symptoms of overuse injuries include:
- Pain during activity/sport
- Dull pain at rest
- Intermittent swelling
- Inability to straighten the elbow
- Decreased performance in your sport
Some prevention strategies to employ with baseball players prone to overuse injuries are as follows:
- Utilizing proper throwing mechanics
- Warming up before activity and cooling down after activity
- Stretching warmed-up muscles to increase flexibility
- Proper nutrition and hydration
Additionally, the American Sports Medicine Institute recommends the following regulations for age and pitch count:
Max Pitches Per Game
Max Games Per Week
Not all injuries in baseball are chronic, however. Bumps, bruises, muscle strains, and twists can also occur easily in any area of the body. For these injuries, the PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is the most effective way to treat these injuries.
When injuries occur in baseball, it is important to utilize practices that help to facilitate recovery time. Hydrating early and often can help facilitate a pitcher’s mental acuity in preparation and competition. When a muscle cramps, it tends to pull extra fluids and electrolytes from the system, which can delay the recovery process. Another way to help facilitate recovery time is to use ice and aerobic activity. Ice should applied for about 10-20 minutes at a time. Two minutes of aerobic activity should be performed for every one minute of ice. Using both together is more beneficial for the throwing athlete. And finally, a third way to help with recovery time is to get plenty of sleep. Baseball pitchers should plan to sleep each night for 6 hours, 7 ½ hours, or 9 hours each night with a 20-30 minute “power nap” mixed in.
Your local SSM Health Cardinal Glennon SportsCare Outreach Liaison is a great resource for treating athletes with baseball-related injuries. They will be able to treat and help facilitate a referral to a physician if necessary. You can reach your local representative at 314-577-5640 or by visiting http://www.cardinalglennon.com/sportscare.
Written by:Amanda Sullivan, MS, ATC, LAT, Outreach Liaison – SSM Health Cardinal Glennon SportsCare SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital
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