As we gear up for baseball season this year, it is important to begin training early in order to prevent injuries from occurring once the season starts. In baseball, the most common injuries we see are overuse injuries of the shoulder and elbow.
An overuse injury occurs when a repetitive action such as throwing, is performed so many times that the muscles and ligaments that usually control a joint, begin to stretch and fatigue. Once these structures begin to fatigue then the body naturally changes the mechanics it uses to perform the throwing action, which in turn often results in injury such as impingement or microtearing of soft tissues. Impingement syndrome occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed and irritated as it passes through a narrow space usually between two bony surfaces. This results in a decrease of range of motion and strength of the shoulder. If left untreated, impingement can result in possible tearing of the tendon as the tendon degenerates from constant inflammation. In order to prevent an overuse injury there are some simple actions that can be performed preseason and also throughout the season.
Firstly, it is important to strengthen the shoulder and elbow starting 2-3 months prior to the beginning of the season. Strengthening of the scapula, thoracic spine along with the rotator cuff muscles is vital in the prevention of shoulder injury.
Beginning a daily stretching routine prior to the season will also help to fend off an injury. Stretching of the shoulders, back, forearms and legs daily will maintain muscle length. It is important to include strengthening 4-5 times weekly along with the stretching program in order to prevent over stretching of these soft tissues.
Be sure to perform exercises that are specific to your playing position. For example, outfielders require a strong arm in order to be able to reach home plate with a throw but they require less endurance in their arm than a pitcher would as the pitcher throws multiple innings. Meanwhile, infielders require more speed and accuracy than an outfielder in order to make the quick plays near to base. So exercises for an outfielder would include more resisted throwing, whereas exercises for an infielder would include more accuracy and quick release training.
Once spring training and the season begins, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that your body is telling you in order to prevent a nagging injury.
Symptoms such as pain in the shoulder or elbow with throwing or sleeping on the affected side can be an early symptom that an overuse injury may be starting. Weakness with throwing can be a sign that the arm is fatiguing and that rest is necessary. Pain post-activity is also a sign that you may be in the early stages of an injury.
Seeking treatment early for an overuse injury is key in the ability for a player to continue to participate in baseball as the season progresses. Contact your local physiotherapist at Beaumont Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic at (780)929-5217, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health this baseball season.