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Four Common Baseball Injuries, and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 30 September 2016
Four Common Baseball Injuries, and How to Avoid Them

Chances are, you probably don't think baseball is all that dangerous of a sport. After all, it's a far cry from bone-crunching contact sports like hockey. However, like any sport, baseball injuries crop up all the time, despite sports medicine's best attempts to help athletes stay healthy and injury-free.

Here are four of the most common sports injuries we see with baseball players and how you can take steps to avoid them.

Torn Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is a set of four muscles in your shoulder. They're what allows your shoulder to rotate, as the name suggests. Like all muscles, your rotator cuff is held together with tendons, and repeated stress on these tendons can cause this common baseball injury.

Pitchers put stress on their rotator cuff with each and every pitch they throw. Though a pitch here or there wouldn't likely cause any issue, days, months and years of repeated stress can lead to torn or inflamed tendons.

How to prevent it:

Warming up before throwing can help prevent injuries. If you're a baseball fan, you've probably noticed pitchers warm up in the bullpen before they're put into a game. The same is true for everyone, whether you're a professional who makes millions throwing heat, or just toss around a ball for fun in the evenings.

Tennis Elbow

You might be thinking, what, tennis elbow?! This is a baseball article!

Not so fast friend, for tennis elbow is a misnomer. Though it's certainly a common sports injury in tennis, it's not exclusive to said sport. Baseball players can also get tennis elbow, which is another name for an injury to the tendon that runs up the arm to the elbow. It can be torn or inflamed, depending on the severity of the injury. Much like torn rotator cuffs, this injury is also common in pitchers.

How to prevent it:

Unfortunately, the exact cause of tennis elbow isn't known, so it's difficult to prevent. Our best guess is repeated stress. Like any stress-related injury, stretching before activity, taking frequent breaks, and not pushing your body too hard can help prevent excessive problems. If you do get tennis elbow, treatment typically involves anti-inflammatories, ice and rest. Ask your sports medicine doctor for their best medical advice if you're unsure how to handle it.

Knee injuries

You may have noticed the previous two injuries are most commonly incurred by pitchers. This sports injury, however, is more common among fielders.

Whether base running or making plays in the outfield, any sport that involves running can lead to knee injuries. Baseball players are put into high stress situations where they have to make quick plays and have only seconds to make decisions. One wrong step as you round a base, maybe from misread base running signs, can lead to an unfortunate twist and a lengthy spell on the disabled list. Knee injuries involving torn ligaments or cartilage are common, too. You've probably heard of a ballplayer on your favourite team suffering a torn ACL at some point. This is a knee injury involving the anterior cruciate ligament.

How to prevent it:

It might sound like a broken record, but much like the previous two injuries, stretching and warming up prior to a game are the best way to prevent knee injuries. That, and being careful about how you step and run. Talk with your sports medicine doctor about your gait to ensure your running mechanics are correct, healthy, and unlikely to cause a sports injury in the heat of the moment.

Head Injuries

Unsurprisingly, head injuries are all too common a baseball injury. We're talking about a sport where players regularly stand in front of a ball whizzing by them at a 100mph. Getting hit by a pitch, or a thrown ball, for that matter, isn't all that uncommon. Collisions at bases or on the field are also common. A concussion is the most common side-effect of a severe head injury.

How to prevent it:

Wear a helmet and protective gear. That's really all there is to it. A batting helmet is an absolute must when you step into the batter's box.

 

Ultimately, baseball is an active sport, and try as you might, preventing injuries 100% is a futile task. Top teams employ a huge roster of sports medicine doctors and still, baseball injuries happen. What's important is how you handle the injury to ensure it heals correctly, and allows you to continue to play and enjoy the sports you love.

If you've suffered a baseball injury, or are concerned you might be at risk for a baseball injury, SEMI has several trained sports medicine doctors who can evaluate you. Call us at 1-855-572-9177, or drop by one of our Toronto sports medicine clinics.
Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
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