When we think of contact sports, baseball and softball don’t typically come to mind. However, throughout the course of practice and games, players are subject to a wide variety of injuries, such as pulled muscles, strained joints, twisted ankles, and even broken bones. Here are some of the most common baseball injuries and how you can help avoid them.
The Most Common Baseball Injuries
The most common injuries in baseball and softball are joint related – elbows, shoulders, and knees. And the position you play is also a contributor. For instance, a pitcher may be more likely to injure an elbow or shoulder, but a catcher is more likely to injure a knee. The most common baseball injuries include:
Rotator Cuff Tears: The rotator cuff is a network of 4 muscles / tendons that keep your arm in your shoulder socket. This joint also happens to have the most range-of-motion of any joint in your body. Over time these tendons wear down and eventually result in a tear. This is why pitchers are often limited in the number of games they pitch and how many pitches they throw.
UCL Injuries: The ulnar collateral ligament is a stabilizer in your elbow and gets injured with repetitive throwing motions.
Knee Injuries (ACL and MCL): Running bases is a recipe for knee disaster. A sudden stop while sprinting, landing on a flexed knee, sliding into base, or twisting a knee after planting a foot – all of these can cause serious knee injuries.
Muscle sprains and strains are also common baseball injuries and can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation. And both pitching and batting can put pressure on the lower back. This can develop into a condition call spondylolysis, which is a fracture to one of the vertebrae.
The Worst Baseball Injuries
Some of the worst baseball injuries are accidental and can keep a player off the field for an entire season or in some extreme cases the player may never play baseball again. These injuries tend to be broken bones and/or multiple concussions.
Fielding collisions: Two (or more) players going for the same ball can be disastrous. With their eyes on the ball, they may not see the impending collision and run full speed into one another.
Hitting the wall: There’s a lot of glory when you make a great catch but try and avoid running into the outfield wall or infield fence. Not much glory in going to the emergency room. Fortunately, most youth baseball fields have padding on the fences to avoid injury.
Getting hit with a pitch: Sure, it was an “accident!” We’d like to think so in youth baseball, but regardless of the intent, getting hit with a pitch is painful and potentially deadly.
Tommy John: This is a UCL injury that requires the dreaded “Tommy John” surgery. Often, pitchers will never recover from this kind of surgery, effectively ending their careers.
Some of the worst baseball injuries can be avoided by wearing protective gear and making sure you’re aware of the other players around you. And if you crowd home plate when you’re batting, you’re just inviting a pitcher to throw it closer to you than you may want. Play smart and play fair, and you shouldn’t have to worry about these kinds of injuries.
Exercises to Avoid Shoulder Injury
Aside from accidental injuries, there’s a lot you can do to avoid injuries related to the regular play of the game. The right kind of exercises can focus on the muscle groups you use most in baseball. Since your shoulder is one of the easiest joints to injure, we’ll show you some exercises that can help keep it strong, stable, and flexible. We prefer isometric shoulder exercises, because they’re zero impact and you can do them anywhere, anytime. These exercises are best done with the Activ5 strength training device.
Front Shoulder Raise
- With your right arm bent 90 degrees, extend your elbow straight from your body. Your forearm should be directly in front of your chest
- Place your left palm on top of your right elbow. Both arms will be bent 90 degrees
- Press your right arm up into your left palm
- Keep your arms parallel to the ground
Repeat with your left arm.
Shoulder External Rotation
- Bend your left elbow by your side to 90 degrees
- Reach your right arm over and place your right palm on the outside of your left forearm
- Press your palm against your forearm, squeezing both shoulders and upper back
Repeat with your right arm.
- Bend your left elbow by your side, fist up, about shoulder level
- Place your right palm on top of your left fist, keeping your right arm at 90 degrees
- Squeeze your left should muscles as you press your fist into your palm
Repeat on the right side.
Hold each isometric exercise for as long as you can. Rest for a minute. Then repeat two or three times.
French Tricep Press
- Bend and lift your left elbow to eye level
- Make a fist with your left hand
- Place your right palm over your left fist
- Press your left fist and right palm together, as you squeeze your shoulder muscles
Repeat with your right arm.
Avoid Baseball Injuries with Activ5
Whether you prefer baseball or softball, you risk getting injured whenever you play. The best way to avoid common baseball injuries is to stretch and warm up before playing, being aware of the other players on the field, and wearing protective equipment. And since fatigue is a key factor in baseball injuries, make sure you have a regular workout routine that strengthens muscles, increases flexibility, and improves endurance.
To help you in your training and workout routine, we recommend the Activ5 portable training device and coaching app. Activ5 has over 100 gym-based exercises that can improve your batting, pitching, throwing and base-running. Activ5 makes workouts fun, tracks your progress on a sophisticated smartphone app, and even functions as a game controller. Even the Pittsburgh Steelers are using it!