Take me out to the ball game! Take me out with the crowd! Baseball season is here which means… shoulder injuries!
With Little League & spring training underway, there’s a shift occurring at doctor’s offices as well as in physical therapy clinics. During football season, medical professionals see numerous lower extremity injuries such as ACL and MCL tears, but with the switch to baseball season, shoulder injuries are now more prevalent. After 14 years in business, we have come to recognize the seasons of injuries.
As your kids enter their sports season & as we all tune in to watch our favorite professional teams, here’s a closer look into some injuries you can expect to see.
Common Injuries in Baseball
Rotator Cuff Injuries – The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that are responsible for the coordination of the shoulder’s movements. When you think of baseball, there are a few things that come to mind: throwing & hitting the ball. The repetitive overhead throwing motion can cause stress on the tendons and muscles of the rotator cuff which can lead to pain. Signs of injury: Pain while lying on the potentially injured shoulder, pain when moving the arm up and down, or weakness in the arm with particular movements such as throwing, putting on clothing, combing your hair, or lifting groceries
UCL Sprain (Tommy John) – The UCL, or the ulnar collateral ligament, is located inside of the elbow joint and helps to provide stability of the player’s throwing arm. UCL sprains are most common in pitchers because of the repetitive, excessive use of the arm. However, UCL sprains can also occur due to physical impact at the joint.
Signs of injury: Swelling and soreness on the inside of your arm/elbow, numbness and/or tingling in your arm, or a sense of instability or that your elbow may give out when used
Labral Tear – The labrum is a piece of cartilage that lines the shoulder joint. It is responsible for making the socket of the AC (acromioclavicular) joint more cup-like in order to fit the head of the humerus. The labrum serves as the attachment site for the ligaments and helps to provide stability to the shoulder joint. When the labrum tears, it can cause the shoulder to partially or completely dislocate.
Signs of injury: Popping, clicking, or grinding sensations (crepidus), instability or looseness of the shoulder, or decline in performance
What can you do to help prevent baseball-related injuries?
Don't let an injury end your season! Be proactive in the following stretches and strengthening exercises to help prevent the most common baseball injuries from occurring. Be sure to perform the following exercises & stretches on both sides - the throwing arm & non-throwing arm!
Internal Rotation at 90 - Start with your arm parallel with your body at 90 degrees, then internally rotate the arm down while keeping the elbow level with your shoulders. Repeat 10 times and be sure to do the other side!
External Rotation at 90 - Raise your arm to shoulder height forming a 90 degree angle. Keep your elbow level with your shoulders, pull the shoulder blades down and in toward your back. Externally rotate the arm up. Repeat 10 times and perform the same exercise on the opposite side.
Pec Stretch - Stand in the doorway and place the hands on the outside of the doorway just about head height. Bring one foot through the door. Keep the back straight and shift your body through the doorway until you feel a stretch in the chest. Keep the shoulder blades and shoulders down. Avoid letting your ribs stick out or lower back sway. Keep the body upright and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Core - Perform exercises such as dead bugs, marches, or crunches to help strengthen the core. Every movement starts from here - the powerhouse of the body! When the core is strengthened, it helps to support the rest of the body.
Single Leg Balance - Stand on one leg with the other leg bent at the knee. Keeping your eyes open, try and prevent the body from tilting while the leg is planted. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on both sides. To make this exercise harder, try closing your eyes. Be sure to engage your core to help you stabilize the body.
Internal Rotation Stretches - Lay on your side with your arm in front of you and bent at a 90 degree angle. Your palm should be facing away from your face. Take the opposing arm that is closest to the ceiling and gently push your arm down towards the floor until you feel a stretch on the front of your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Don't forget to do the same stretch on the opposite side.
Lat Pull Downs - From a sitting position, bring the scapula down & in. Bring your arms up above your head. Make sure your shoulder blades do not come towards your ears. Pull your elbows down in towards your side and repeat the motion 10 times. To make the exercise more difficult, use a TheraBand.
While you munch on your peanuts and Cracker Jack, keep an eye on players who may be performing motions that could cause them to injure their shoulders. But remember, shoulder injuries are not limited to professional athletes. Anyone performing consistent and repetitive shoulder movements is susceptible to one of these injuries.
If you or someone you know has a possible shoulder injury, visit one of our clinic locations for an injury assessment with one of our physical therapists! Call 949-713-6445 to schedule an appointment at our Rancho Santa Margarita location or 949-262-9142 to schedule at our Irvine location.