Softball injuries. Prevention & Treatment
Softball injuries are a reality, and their occurrence seems to be on the rise, with as many young athletes being affected by such problems as those playing baseball. Everyone on the court is affected equally, and it does not appear that there is a position in the field that is more exposed to injuries than others. While players may feel that protecting their heads with softball helmets is enough, the injuries that occur most often affect the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, and forearms.
The most common injuries depending on field position
While it was mentioned earlier that all the players on the court are equally exposed to injuries, the nature of their injuries can be different, depending on the position they fill in. Pitchers, for instance, are mostly affected by shoulder tendinitis, which is an inflammation occurring in the tendon. They can also report pains in the back or neck, as well as tendinitis in their wrists, elbows, and forearms.
Catchers have a bit more problems, as their knees can also be affected. Their shoulders can also become injured, due to the particular moves they perform. Other players on the field are also affected by overhead shoulder and elbow issues. Even when using excellent softball gloves, players might still experience injuries, which is why prevention is highly recommended.
How to prevent softball injuries
There are plenty of things a young athlete can do to avoid getting injured while playing. The first most indicated method of prevention is proper warm-up that consists of stretching, a bit of running, and gradual throwing. That will help your muscles to become a little loose, and you will not have the same issues as if you would have gone on the field without warm up.
Another method recommended for players is to try alternating positions so that different muscles and joints are used. Overusing the same parts of the body can be a problem even for athletes, which is why they must pay attention to such recommendations.
You must focus mostly on flexibility and not on increasing your strength. While for a pitcher it might look like the power put into each throw is essential, without flexibility, your muscles will only have to suffer, and your tendons, along with them.
Pitchers need to ensure that they don’t practice the same pitching moves for more than two days one after the other until they reach 13 years of age. After that, pitchers should not do more than three days of consecutive pitching.
In case you notice pain in the muscles or the tendons, you will have to let your doctor know what is going on. Pains due to practice should not last longer than a week. Further investigations might be needed if this is happening to you.
Age-appropriate training is highly recommended. It is vital that you concentrate on improving your control and accuracy, and less on anything else. Softball is a type of sport that focuses on proper mechanics, so you should focus on learning how to master them first, and not on developing strength.
Another recommendation for avoiding softball injuries is to avoid playing all year-round. If you happen to have concerns about your health, always talk to your trainer, or a doctor specialized in sports medicine, as they can guide you toward the right course of action in the case of an injury.
Needless to say, when you recover after an injury, do not hit the field, unless you have the permission of the health care professional who treated you during that time.
Treating softball injuries – a short guide
We will focus on a few common softball injuries to give you a clear idea on what to expect should you happen to go through such a painful episode.
Some of the most affected areas of the body when playing softball are the tendons in your arms. What happens is that you throw the ball repeatedly, or you catch it using the same move, and that puts a strain on the tendons. When that happens, their response is an inflammation, which manifests through pains. The medical condition is called tendonitis, and it is not unusual in softball athletes.
Pitchers often suffer from tendonitis in their wrists and shoulders, due to the rotating movement they use on a regular basis as they pitch. Other players are also affected by tendonitis, so knowing how this condition is treated is essential.
First of all, the doctor will recommend reducing the amount of activity that affects the respective tendon. Also, inflammation will diminish if you apply cold compresses to the area. Rest, as well as compression, help, too. The doctor can also prescribe some anti-inflammatory medication and some physical therapy. In extreme cases, injections with steroids and surgery may be advised.
When you strain your shoulders while playing softball, what happens is that a tendon or a muscle gets torn or too stretched. While you can wear softball face masks to protect yourself from fast flying balls, you must apply other prevention methods to protect the muscles in your shoulders, as shown earlier.
Resting the affected muscles, applying ice and compression, and using elevation, all help, and they are part of the routine recommended by healthcare professionals to recover from such an injury. In the case that a muscle tears, reconstructive surgery is recommended.
Sprains do not affect only the shoulders of a young athlete playing softball, but also the ankles. Any quick movements, such as trying to pivot fast, and changing directions, can subject the ankles to severe strain; therefore this is how sprains happen.
The good news about sprains is that they are usually nothing serious. However, if you neglect to treat them, they can get worse. What happens if you repeatedly ignore treating ankle sprains is that the ligaments in the area become weak, and a more severe injury can occur.
Besides the recommended methods like rest, ice, compression, and elevation, you also need to immobilize the sprained ankle. You might also have to use crutches for a while, and, in severe cases, reconstructive surgery might also be in order.