Is baseball or softball your sport? Then, you’re in good company. Almost 16 million Americans play baseball, with over 25 million playing baseball or softball.
Baseball is a great sport, but all the repetitive movements involved in throwing a ball expose you to overuse injuries. Irritated, inflamed tendons and muscles can lead to a rotator cuff tear, tendonitis, or bursitis. Stretched ligaments can lead to shoulder instability and dislocation. Repeat stress on the shoulder joint can also tear your labrum, the lining of tough cartilage lining the socket of the joint.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Shults, with Coastal Empire Orthopedics, is a sports medicine specialist who treats many baseball players and other sports enthusiasts.
If you play competitive baseball, you’re likely to suffer an overuse injury. The shoulder motions involved in throwing a ball repeated thousands of times eventually equal body parts that are simply worn out from wear and tear.
When you’re a patient of Dr. Shults, he not only treats your injury but also focuses on helping you avoid injuries in the future. Following is information every baseball player should know about the shoulder joint.
Your shoulder is your most flexible joint
Your knee can’t move beyond 180 degrees. On the other hand, you can rotate your shoulders around so that your arms can move 360 degrees. Your shoulder is the most fluid joint in your body. It’s complex, composed of three bones and numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Because your shoulder is so flexible, it’s prone to injury. Knowing that you want to do everything you can to protect and take care of it, so you have many more years of enjoying your sport. The following are best practices for keeping your shoulder in the best possible condition.
Learn proper technique
If you started baseball when you were young, you might have used an incorrect grip because your hand was so small. Make sure you’re using the proper grip. Is your non-throwing elbow at the right height? How’s your footwork? Work with a specialty trainer to examine your technique to ensure you’re not placing more stress than necessary on your shoulder.
Are you performing strengthening exercises for your whole body to keep it strong and balanced? Throwing requires a strong core. Your lower body should move power through your torso into your arm. Make sure you’re using a research-based conditioning program such as the Thrower’s Ten which was developed to increase endurance, strength, and power.
You know how important it is to warm up your muscles before playing your game. Preparing your body for harder play helps prevent muscle strains that can keep you off the field.
Rest and pay attention to any symptoms in your body
Do you give your body enough time to rest between games? Dr. Shults advises you on the amount of playing time that’s right for you based on your age, general health, and the condition of your throwing arm.
If you experience pain or any other symptoms in your shoulder or arm, take a time-out from playing. Use ice or heat, take pain relievers, and do a few gentle stretches. Make an appointment if your arm isn’t better in a couple of days. We prescribe treatment that gets you back in the game.
Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment online if you have pain or other symptoms in your shoulder.