Baseball Injuries, Sports Conditioning, and Prevention Tips
Playing multiple games per week — along with the repetitive motion of the overhead throw — causes stress to the musculoskeletal system and exposes players to overuse baseball injuries.
More than 30 million children and teenagers participate in organized sports today. About 288,000 of those are injured each year playing baseball.
Changes in recent trends tend to drive young athletes to focus on one sport — playing year round and participating on multiple teams.
Without taking time off or changing sports during the year, baseball players commonly experience arm soreness and are likely to develop overuse injuries. If not properly managed, this can lead to more serious problems.
Baseball players most often injure their shoulders or elbows. Shoulder-related injuries range from tendonitis of the muscles that keep the joint (the rotator cuff) stable to cartilage tears within the joint itself. Elbow problems include tendonitis of the muscles on top of or below the forearm and strains of the ligaments on the inside of the elbow.
Overuse baseball injuries
Overuse injuries can include tendonitis, inflammation of muscles, fractures, sprains, strains, cartilage tears, and more. These injuries can prevent players from performing their best and make playing impossible in some cases. Baseball and softball players should condition with exercises to prevent injury and maximize performance.
Conditioning exercises target several causes of baseball and softball-related injuries, including decreased rotator cuff or scapular strength, poor flexibility/ROM, and insufficient warm-up.
Causes of baseball injuries
- Not enough rest periods
- Poor throwing mechanics
- Poor specific pitch technique
- Poor flexibility and range of motion
- Decreased rotator cuff or scapular (shoulder) strength
- Decreased wrist muscle strength and flexibility
- Decreased hamstring flexibility and strength
- Poor hip flexibility
- Poor core strength and stability
- Decreased hip muscle strength
When to seek medical treatment
Any athlete who has pain or soreness for more than 48 hours should seek medical attention. In as little as 48 hours, weakness and imbalances can occur, leading to increased risk factors when the athlete returns to play.
Baseball Injury Prevention
To prevent injuries, baseball players should:
It's important for athletes to talk with parents and coaches instead of playing through any pain. Pain may be due to an underlying condition, and continuing to play could result in an injury.
If pain persists, or if a young athlete is playing year round without much rest, a consultation with a sports medicine specialist is recommended.
Services We Offer
The specialized team of experts from UPMC Sports Medicine's Young Athlete Program can evaluate and, if necessary, treat an injury to prevent more serious problems.
Overuse injuries in baseball usually respond to rest and a temporary halt to playing.
Reduce pain and swelling by:
- Icing the area
- Doing gentle stretches
- Using ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®, etc.)
After a period of rest, an athlete often needs physical therapy or rehabilitation to regain strength and flexibility in the affected area.
At the baseball sports injury clinic, UPMC Sports Medicine can design a baseball-specific throwing, strengthening, and range-of-motion program to help the athlete return from injury, or improve form.
If surgery is needed, an athlete usually completes a rehabilitation program afterward and can return to playing baseball with medical clearance.