By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
The snow has melted and the grass is starting to turn green. It’s a sign baseball season is right around the corner. MLB teams are back in action and athletes in Manitoba aren’t far behind.
Even with a new season, there are common injuries players might see during their season. Throwing and pitching injuries account for 20 per cent of all game injuries, followed by running injuries, and sliding injuries.
It’s important to be aware of the common injuries and what athletes and coaches can do to help prevent them.
Most Common Injuries
With the repetitive motions baseball players use, it’s no surprise the most common injuries are a result of overuse.
Here are some injuries players see the most:
The rotator cuff is located in the shoulder and is a group of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering around the upper arm bone. This group of muscles helps lift and rotate your arm. The throwing motion pitchers and other players on the field do repeatedly can put a lot of stress on the shoulder. In most situations, a player would experience pain immediately after a rotator cuff tear and wouldn’t be able to lift their arm. Physical therapy is always the first line of treatment as most rotator cuff injuries can be managed conservatively.
A labral tear is another shoulder injury, which affects the thick piece of tissue attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that cushions your shoulder joint. One of the most common types of labral tears are SLAP tears. These occur in the front of the labrum and are caused by repeated overhand arm movements, like pitching or throwing. If the damage is significant, surgery is sometimes needed, but the first line of treatment for labral related shoulder issues is physical therapy.
Baseball isn’t classified as a contact sport, but there are still chances a player can suffer a head injury. The most common head injury is a concussion, which involves the brain shifting inside the skull. They usually happen because of a collision with another object while the object is moving at a high rate of speed. Baseballs travel through the air at high speeds, especially as athletes get older and stronger. Batters do wear helmets when they’re on the mound, but even with the proper protection, concussions can still occur. Players in the field aren’t wearing helmets, so if they get hit in the head with a ball, collide with another player, or hit their head on the ground trying to make a catch, it could cause injury.
Athletes can’t predict when injuries are going to happen. But it doesn’t mean steps can’t be taken to help prevent injuries from happening.
Avoid Throwing and Pitching in Pain
The main cause of an overuse injury in baseball is throwing with pain or when athletes are tired.
It can happen by throwing too many pitches in a game or season, or not taking the time to rest during the off season. Young athletes who might play in more than one league or play year-round, increase their chances of sustaining a throwing-related injury.
Here are some ways to reduce the risk of a throwing-related injury:
- Monitor fatigue and pain levels
- Never pitch or throw in pain without being assessed by a healthcare professional
- Have no competitive baseball pitching for three-four months per year
- Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons
- Know about age-appropriate pitch counts
Preparation is Key
All players, no matter the age, should follow an appropriate pre-season training program to improve strength, flexibility, and endurance. It’s also important to have instruction on proper throwing techniques and knowing when to gradually increase the throwing intensity and volume.
It’s also important to take time to warm up. Simple exercises like jumping jacks or light running will help warm up the muscles and get them ready to play. Moderate stretches to the back and shoulders can also be helpful. A physical therapist is well-equipped to help provide a program that is specific to your needs.
Getting a good night’s sleep is key to our daily lives, but it’s even more important for athletes to make sure they’re getting the proper amount of sleep.
Baseball requires vigilance to the game itself and other components, like a ball travelling at high speeds and to others on the field.
Getting enough sleep helps the body recover and reduce the risk of injury. By getting less than eight hours of sleep, it can increase an athlete’s rate of injury by up to 70 per cent.
If you suspect an injury, book an appointment with one of our experienced clinicians at the Sport Manitoba Clinic.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/baseball-injury-prevention/#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20baseball%20injuries,%2C%20bat%2C%20or%20another%20player
Athwal, G. S., & April, A. D. (2021). Rotator Cuff Tears. Retrieved from OrthoInfo, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/rotator-cuff-tears/#:~:text=The%20rotator%20cuff%20is%20a,lift%20and%20rotate%20your%20arm
BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU). (2023). Active & Safe Central . Retrieved from Baseball Overview: https://activesafe.ca/baseball-2/
OrthoVirginia. (2023). Common Baseball Injuries. Retrieved from OrthoVirginia: https://www.orthovirginia.com/blog/common-baseball-injuries/
SportMedBC. (2021). Baseball Injuries. Retrieved from SportMedBC: https://sportmedbc.com/article/baseball-injuries/
The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. (2023). Shoulder Labrum Tear. Retrieved from Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/shoulder-labrum-tear