I am a previous collegiate softball player writing to suggest tips on how to prevent injuries with mainly softball and baseball. However, these suggestions can be implemented into any spring sport. As a former athlete, I can relate that one of the worst feelings is being on the sidelines with an injury. There are a few things that parents and coaches can do to help reduce preventable injuries, so kids can continue playing the game they love!
In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of a traumatic injury/concussion. The most common types of sports injuries are ligament sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness or dehydration. However, most injuries in young athletes are from overuse. Physical therapy can help with injury prevention. Athletes in particular benefit from understanding how their body works and moves in their particular sport. In order to ensure a smooth transition to spring sports, here are five injury prevention tips.
Believe it or not, maximum gains are obtained when appropriate REST is provided with exercise, which enables tissues to adapt and increase their ability to do work. An intense day of working out should be followed by a light workout the next day. If you do not provide time for the body to recover, it can break down leaving you more susceptible to injury. Take time off! Plan to have at least 1 day off per week to allow for a proper recovery. If you are a 3 sport athlete, it is recommended to give your body a break in between sports. Your body will thank you later!
2. Inspect the Field Conditions
Uneven playing surfaces is a major cause of ankle sprains and ACL tears. It is incredibly important to get familiar with the ground you are playing on! Check for divots, holes, and slipprey surfaces. Keep in mind that cutting or any plant with a change of direction will need to be done at a more cautious rate than normal, especially in the grass. In baseball and softball it is important to incorporate different ground balls and fly balls during warm ups. This will allow the infielder to know whether the field is hard (the ball will tend to take bad hops) or whether the field is soft (the ball will stay low to the ground.) Outdoor field conditions may not be optimal during the spring season, but do not let this be the reason for your injury.
3. Proper Warm up/ Cool down
It is very important to start your exercise routine with a proper dynamic warm up that should last about 10 mins or less. A good warm up should aim to be sport specific. In baseball/ softball it is important to warm up your arm and rotator cuff in order to prepare the muscles for throwing. It is also important to cool down and stretch after your workout. Stretching can improve flexibility and should be implemented daily.
4. Check all equipment
All equipment and protective gear should be properly fit. Use appropriate safety equipment for your sport, choose proper footwear, and replace shoes orcleats frequently. It is a good idea to wear new shoes and break them in before competing in them.
5. Listen to your Body
Most injuries do not erupt from nowhere and blindside you! They produce signals, aches, soreness, and persistent pain. However, it is up to you to listen to them and take appropriate action. Plain and simple: If something hurts, stop what you are doing and do what PT’s like to call RICE. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Hopefully these these tips are useful to you help with staying injury free during spring season. Feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback!
To schedule your Physical Therapy appointment with Rehab Associates call 740-345-2837 today!