The most common baseball injuries include mild soft tissue injuries, such as muscle pulls (strains), ligament injuries (sprains), cuts, and contusions (bruises).
Although baseball is a non-contact sport, most serious injuries are due to contact — either with a ball, bat, or another player.
The repetitive nature of the sport can also cause overuse injuries to the shoulder and elbow.
When playing repetitive sports, you should take these components into consideration:
Proper Preparation for Play
- First aid. Familiarity with first aid, including recognizing and treating the most common injuries, is especially important for coaches. Be able to administer basic first aid for minor injuries, such as facial cuts, bruises, strains, sprains, and tendonitis.
- Field knowledge. Be familiar with your baseball field, including its telephone and cardiac defibrillator.
- Emergency situations. Be prepared for emergencies. Have a plan to reach medical personnel for help with more significant injuries like concussions, breathing problems like wheezing, heat illness, and orthopedic emergencies, such as fractures and dislocations.
- Follow the rules. Know the rules and encourage safe and appropriate play.
- Physical exam. A pre-season physical exam is important for both younger and older players. The goal is to prevent injuries and illnesses by identifying any potential medical problems. These may include asthma, allergies, heart, or orthopedic conditions.
- Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch.
- Warm up with some easy calisthenics, such as jumping jacks. Continue with walking or light running, such as running the bases.
- Gentle stretching, in particular your back, hamstrings, and shoulders, can be helpful. Your team coach or athletic trainer may provide a stretching program.
- Ensure Appropriate Equipment and Its Use
- Batting helmet with face shield
- Equipment should fit properly and be worn correctly.
- Wear a batting helmet at the plate, in the “on deck” circle waiting your turn at bat, and during base running.
- Protective face shields attached to batting helmets can reduce the risk of facial injury if hit by a ball.
- Position-specific equipment should be used.
- Catchers should always use a catcher’s mitt, helmet, face mask, throat guard, long-model chest protector, protective supporter, and shin guards.
- Catcher’s protective gear
- Batters should consider wearing protective jackets to avoid injury from being hit by ball.
- Wear molded baseball shoes that fit properly and have appropriate cleats.
- Gender-specific equipment may be of value, including athletic supports for boys/men and padded bras for girls/women.
- In youth leagues, softer baseballs decrease the risk of injury from being hit by a pitched ball.
- Players should be instructed in how to avoid getting hit by a ball.
- Ensure a Safe Environment
- Inspect the playing field for uneven terrain (holes, divots), glass, and other debris.
- Use a field with breakaway bases. Many injuries occur while sliding into bases. The traditional stationary base is a rigid obstacle for an athlete to encounter while sliding. In contrast, a breakaway base is snapped onto grommets attached to an anchored rubber mat, which holds it in place during normal play. Although a sliding runner can dislodge it, the breakaway base is stable and will not detach during normal base running. Installing breakaway bases on all playing fields could significantly decrease sliding injuries.
- Assess weather conditions and be prepared to delay/cancel the game, especially in cases of particularly hot weather or thunderstorms with lightning.
Focus on Technique
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends the following tips for those individuals sliding into, as well as protecting, the bases while playing baseball and softball:
- Players under age 10 should not be taught to slide.
- Proper instruction in sliding technique must be taught and practiced before using any bag, including the breakaway bases. Practice should first be with a sliding bag.
- The “obstruction” rule must be taught and observed. Getting in the way of the runner or blocking the base without possession of the ball is dangerous to both the runner and fielder.
- When coming into home plate, it is important that the runner attempt to slide to avoid a collision.
- To prevent ankle and foot injuries between the runner and fielder at first base, a “double bag” — a separate bag for both the runner and first baseman — should be used.
Pitching and Throwing
Follow established guidelines for youth baseball, which include limiting the number of pitches thrown and type of pitches thrown, according to age. The following guidelines are recommended by the USA Baseball Medical & Safety Advisory Committee.
Pitch Count Limits:
- Age Max.
- Pitches/Game Max.
8 – 10 50 75
11 – 12 75 100
13 – 14 75 125
15 – 16 90 2 games / week
17 – 18 105 2 games / week
Ages for learning types of pitches:
- Fastball – 8 years old
- Change-up – 10 years old
- Curveball – 14 years old
- Knuckleball – 15 years old
- Slider – 16 years old
- Forkball – 16 years old
- Splitter – 16 years old
- Screwball – 17 years old
Both coaches and parents should be responsive to young pitchers who complain of arm or shoulder pain. Be sure to seek out medical care for arm pain that does not go away or that comes back every time a child resumes pitching.
carpal tunnel is a narrow, tunnel-like structure in the wrist. The bottom and sides of this tunnel are formed by wrist (carpal) bones. The top of the tunnel is covered by a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament.
The median nerve travels from the forearm into the hand through this tunnel in the wrist. The median nerve controls feeling in the palm side of the thumb, index finger, and long fingers. The nerve also controls the muscles around the base of the thumb. The tendons that bend the fingers and thumb also travel through the carpal tunnel. These tendons are called flexor tendons.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tissues surrounding the flexor tendons in the wrist swell and put pressure on the median nerve. These tissues are called the synovium. The synovium lubricates the tendons and makes it easier to move the fingers.
This swelling of the synovium narrows the confined space of the carpal tunnel, and over time, crowds the nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve traveling through the carpal tunnel.
Many things contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Heredity is the most important factor – carpal tunnels are smaller in some people, and this trait can run in families.
- Hand use over time can play a role.
- Hormonal changes related to pregnancy can play a role.
- Age — the disease occurs more frequently in older people.
- Medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance can play a role.
- In most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is no single cause.
The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand
- An electric shock-like feeling mostly in the thumb, index, and long fingers
- Strange sensations and pain traveling up the arm toward the shoulder
- Symptoms usually begin gradually, without a specific injury. In most people, symptoms are more severe on the thumb side of the hand.
Symptoms may occur at any time. Because many people sleep with their wrists curled, symptoms at night are common and may awaken you from sleep.
During the day, symptoms frequently occur when holding something, like a phone, or when reading or driving. Moving or shaking the hands often helps decrease symptoms.
Symptoms initially come and go, but over time they may become constant. A feeling of clumsiness or weakness can make delicate motions, like buttoning your shirt, difficult.
These feelings may cause you to drop things. If the condition is very severe, muscles at the base of the thumb may become visibly wasted.
To determine whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will discuss your symptoms and medical history.
He or she will also examine your hand and perform a number of physical tests, such as:
- Checking for weakness in the muscles around the base of your thumb
- Bending and holding your wrists in positions to test for numbness or tingling in your hands
- Pressing down on the median nerve in the wrist to see if it causes any numbness or tingling
- Tapping along the median nerve in the wrist to see whether tingling is produced in any of the fingers
- Testing the feeling in your fingers by lightly touching them when your eyes are closed
Electrical testing of median nerve function is often done to help confirm the diagnosis and clarify the best treatment option in your case.
If you have limited wrist motion, your doctor may order x-rays of your wrist.