The start of spring training is an exciting time for both baseball players and baseball fans. The weather is becoming warmer, the rivalries start heating up, and everybody is ready for another season of the American pastime. However, it is also the time of year when healthcare professionals begin to treat common baseball injuries. Fortunately, an injury during spring training doesn’t have to mean you’re benched for the rest of the season. With effective treatment, players can return to baseball quickly and safely.
Because of the typical movements required in the sport, players at every level are susceptible to these four common baseball injuries:
1. Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles in the shoulder responsible for all of the motions the joint is able to make. Baseball players and other athletes who throw a ball are more likely to suffer from a rotator cuff tear because those muscles and the connecting tendons are used so frequently during practice and games. Although surgery is sometimes required, a torn rotator cuff can often repair on its own.
2. Tennis Elbow
Despite its name, tennis elbow is an injury that can happen to any type of athlete. This repetitive stress injury is caused by overuse. Repeatedly throwing a baseball and swinging a bat can strain the muscles around the elbow, leading to a painful injury.
3. Knee Injuries
Knee injuries such as a torn ACL, MCL, or meniscus can occur in baseball players when pivoting to round a base, twisting a leg when sliding, or making an abrupt stop to avoid being tagged out.
4. Head Injuries
Some pitchers can throw a ball faster than most cars drive on the highway. Even with a helmet, getting hit in the head with a baseball can cause a head injury like a concussion. Players in the field can also get a bump on the head when they are hit with an errant throw, if they collide with other players, or if they land on the hard ground after making a catch.
Treating Common Baseball Injuries
All of these common baseball injuries can benefit from two treatment approaches: cold therapy and physical therapy.
Most athletes know to use cold therapy after spraining an ankle, but it can be effective for almost any type of injury. This is because therapeutic cold helps control inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to an injury. Applying cold to an injured shoulder, elbow, knee, or head has several beneficial effects, including:
- Alleviating pain without medication
- Reducing swelling
- Slowing down cellular metabolism
- Preventing painful muscle spasms
Cold therapy can be applied with traditional ice or gel packs immediately after an injury. During the recovery process, you should consider using a cold therapy system to get all these benefits plus the added value of active compression, which helps to remove excess fluid and improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the injury.
Physical therapy is another important treatment method for common baseball injuries. Working with a physical therapist can help you regain range of motion, strength, and flexibility as you recover. A physical therapist can show you exercises to perform both in the clinic and at home and offer treatments like electrical stimulation and cold compression therapy to help reduce pain and swelling.
If you have suffered from one of these common baseball injuries, start working with a physical therapist as soon as you can.