Take me out to the ballgame! The MLB baseball season has just begun and the frost is barely melted here in the Chicagoland area but, as it is during every spring, we’re ready for some time in the bleachers. But if you’re out on the field playing instead of in the bleachers, you may want to consider how chiropractic care can help you avoid common baseball injuries and - if you are injured – how chiropractic can help you heal.
Most Common Baseball Injuries
It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that the person on the baseball field most likely to have an injury is the pitcher. With professional pitching speeds regularly in the 90 mph range and even young teens pitching between 50 and 60 mph, the arm and the shoulder of the pitcher does some dramatic work with every pitch. Here are the most common injuries among baseball pitchers:
• Rotator cuff tear
There are four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder and if anyone of them is torn, it can be a very painful experience. Rotator cuff tears generally happen suddenly, as a result of a particular movement. If serious enough, a rotator cuff tear can even make it difficult to move one’s arm. Finally, rotator cuff tears that don’t heal properly can cause a lifetime of pain and movement problems.
• Thrower’s shoulder
Also known as swimmer’s shoulder, thrower’s shoulder happens when the tendons of the rotator cuff in the shoulder become impinged. The onset of thrower’s shoulder and the associated pain is often gradual, unlike with rotator cuff tears, which tend to happen suddenly.
• Shoulder instability
Shoulder instability, also known as a shoulder subluxation, happens when the shoulder partially dislocates from its socket. This usually initially happens as a result of a sudden movement and may or may not be painful. However, shoulder instability is a sign that the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder aren’t operating properly, possibly as a result of another injury or an improperly healed injury.
• Thrower’s elbow and tennis elbow
These injuries to the elbow are caused by overuse and a wearing down of the protective tissues in the elbow joint. Thrower’s elbow causes pain on the inside of the elbow while tennis elbow causes pain on the outside of the elbow.
While these are injuries common to pitchers, they are caused by throwing and therefore can affect nearly any baseball player.
How to Avoid Baseball Injuries
The injuries above fall into two major categories: sudden injuries and injuries that occur over time. Nonetheless, some of the key methods to avoiding these injuries are the same. For instance, adhering to age-appropriate and ability-appropriate pitching count guidelines is crucial to keeping a pitcher at his or her best and allowing them to have the most successful pitching career possible. Furthermore, pitchers should not play year-round, no matter what age they are, nor should they pitch on consecutive days. Finally, pitchers need to be aware of what is typical post-practice and post-game sensations for them. While icing and rest can cure standard soreness, pitchers should seek medical attention from a sports medicine professional as soon as any pain out of the ordinary occurs.
Whether you are a pitcher, a catcher, or a fielder, there are a number of steps you can take to mitigate the likelihood that you will suffer a sudden injury on the field. Proper warm-up and stretching routines can make sure your muscles are limber and ready for the often short burst of intense activity that baseball requires. Remember that one warm-up session before the game is often not enough: if you sit the bench for an inning, make sure your muscles stay warm so you are ready when it’s time to bat or go on the field again.
Off-season training is also an important factor in avoiding pre-season and in-season injuries. In fact, pre-season injuries are more common than in-season injuries because many players don’t keep up their fitness during the off-season. Then, at the first practice, they push their body to perform at the same level it was performing the previous fall. That’s a recipe for disaster. Keeping up your strength and flexibility in the off-season will help you keep pre-season and in-season injuries at bay.
How Chiropractic Can Help You Heal From a Baseball Injury
Here are a few ways that your chiropractor can help you heal after a baseball injury:
• Chiropractors can suggest gentle stretches and strengthening exercises for the injured area that will keep it from getting stiff as it heals. Stiffness in a healed area can lead to re-injury so keeping an injured area mobile is important for long-term recovery
• Chiropractors can make sure the rest of your body remains in proper working order. When we injure one area of our body, sometimes other areas compensate. For instance, an injured ankle may cause us to “favor” that ankle, which may lead to incorrect hip and spine alignment. A chiropractor can spot and treat these potential problems and help you guide your body back to proper alignment.
• While you are healing, chiropractors can give you other simple exercises for other areas of your body to make sure that one injury doesn’t lead to an overall decline in fitness or ability.
If you or your child has experienced a baseball injury recently, we’d be happy to help you get back on the playing field as soon as possible. Give us a call today to schedule a screening.