baseball

Injury Prevention for the "Older" Ball Player

There’s nothing like the feeling of jogging out onto a baseball or softball field to take some grounders or shag some fly balls.  The smell of fresh cut grass, the feeling of the dirt under your cleats, the crack of the bat. If it doesn’t make you feel like a kid again nothing will!  These sports are not just for the young. An estimated 10 million participants take part in casual baseball and softball leagues in the U.S. each year. Most articles on injury prevention in baseball and softball are designed, however, for youth players or high level professional, college or high school players.  This article will give some tips to the recreational players who truly just play for the love of the game.

Whether you are in your 20’s and want to play ball after a college or professional career, or in your 40’s or 50’s and want to return to play after years away from the game, here are a few specific considerations, as well as some exercises and stretches to address them.

You are very likely not as active during the day as you were when you last played.  You may now have a job where you sit for much of the day at work and then sit again during your commute to and from the office.  All this sitting does a number on your posture and poor posture has been shown to lead to an increased risk for shoulder and elbow injury in baseball players.  Doing some exercises to offset forward posture such as the row exercise (pictured below) is very important for not only the health of your shoulder, but also for your elbow, neck and back.

IMG-1750.JPG

Another consideration related to sitting is hamstring tightness.  Sitting leaves the hamstrings in a shortened position. When left in this position for long periods, your hamstrings will become tight and inflexible.  If your hamstrings are tight and you try and sprint to field a grounder in the hole or leg out a double, you can end up with a hamstring tear. Performing a simple hamstring stretch (shown below) will help improve hamstring flexibility.

IMG-1751.JPG

A third injury consideration for the recreational baseball and softball player are calf and achilles tendon tears.  Baseball and softball are sports that require athletes to go from standing relatively still to a full sprint. Tight calves can lead to muscle strain or, even worse, an achilles rupture.  The stretch shown below can help loosen up tight calves and reduce your likelihood of injury.

These exercises and stretches should be performed throughout the day and can easily be done at home or in the office.  You simply can’t offset a day’s worth of sitting with a few quick stretches or light warm up before you go on the field.  Incorporate these stretches into your daily routine regularly and they will help keep you on the field and feeling like a kid again!

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Greg at Complete Game Physical Therapy, 978-710-7204 or gcrossman@completegamept.com.


Keeping Healthy in the Baseball/Softball Off Season

81754716-min-1.jpg

Though the winter is in full swing and it may seem way too early to be thinking about the baseball or softball season, many players and teams will have started their offseason training.  Here in the northeast, indoor training facilities are filling up fast with players getting ready for next season. Check out these tips if you or your child is starting offseason training.

Screenshot (231).png

Training Considerations for Youth Baseball and Softball

Ages 12 and Under

A research review published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2017, entitled “Sport Specialization at an Early Age Can Increase Injury Risk”, not only found a higher rate of injury in those that specialize early, but also found that those who waited to specialize tended to reach higher levels of athletic achievement.  Playing multiple sports, especially at younger ages, has clear benefits.

Be careful though.  Playing 3-4 sports in the same season is not necessarily beneficial and can, in fact, lead to overuse injuries or burnout.  We often see kids (and their well intended parents who let them play 3-4 sports in the same season) in the PT clinic with overuse type injuries (tendonitis, muscle strains, etc.).  Pick and choose what you play so as not to over do it.

Strength and conditioning training at this age is helpful, but should be done only under observation with a trainer who is used to working with children.  Training at these ages should not focus on traditional “weight lifting” and instead should focus more on the A, B, Cs (Agility, Balance and Coordination).

Ages 13-14

This age group is a challenge.  We see more injuries in the clinic in this age group than any other group of athletes.  For baseball players, this is the age when they move to the big diamond. The longer throws in particular can be very taxing on their arms.  It is important at this age that athletes get in the gym and start some sort of strength training to help withstand the longer throws. They should also consider working with a coach on throwing mechanics.  We often see kids whose poor throwing mechanics become problematic when they move from small diamond to big diamond and have to make longer throws.

Softball field dimensions do not change as much, but this is the age where the female body begins to change and girls are at a higher risk for ACL injury.  The hips tend to widen, leaving the knees at an angle that is more susceptible to injury. Strength training programs or even ACL injury prevention programs can help reduce the risk of injury.

Ages 15+

This older age group should be involved in a more traditional strength and conditioning program.  Be sure, however, that your athlete is working with someone who has experience training “overhead athletes” like baseball or softball players.  There are many considerations that should be taken into account with this group. For example, because of the high level of stress that is placed on the front of the shoulder, care should be taken not to overstress the front of the shoulder in the weight room as well.

Another consideration with this group of athletes is that though it is still beneficial to play multiple sports, these athletes should be getting themselves ready for baseball or softball prior to the start of the season.  In the northeast, high school tryouts are typically in March and games often begin a week or two later. This is not enough time to prepare the body for high demand activities such as pitching. Athletes should be doing some throwing such as an interval throwing program to prepare themselves along with a strength and conditioning program.

At Complete Game Physical Therapy we help athletes and active individuals of all ages get back to the sports and activities they love without missing valuable playing time or losing their competitive advantage.  For more information or to make an appointment call 978-710-7204 or email Greg at gcrossman@completegamept.com.





Hitting for Power and Pitching Velocity… It’s All in the Hips!

“It’s all in the hips.”  Not just a great line from the movie Happy Gilmore but also a great way to create more power hitting a baseball and increase pitching velocity in a safe manner.  I had the great pleasure of taking the Titleist Performance Institute (@mytpi) certification course over the last few days and they spend a lot of time talking about how pelvic tilt relates to power in the golf swing.  I of course immediately think of how it relates to baseball and with golf and baseball both being rotational sports they relate pretty closely. There must be something to this if TPI is currently training the top 60 golfers in the world!

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilt is simply the position of the pelvis or hip bones in relation to the ground when standing.  An anterior tilt can be pictured as simply an increased arch in the lower back. A posterior tilt is the opposite and decreased arch in lower back or flattening of the spine.  A neutral spine is the spot right in between the two.


how-to-fix-anterior-pelvic-tilt.jpg

How Pelvic Tilt Occurs in Throwing and Hitting

When our front leg lands as we throw or our back hip rotates around as we hit our pelvis is in an anterior tilt.  Doing this allow our hips and shoulders to rotate separately from each other to help create power. This leaves us in a position of lower back extension or increased arch.  As we come to release point in throwing or contact point in hitting we need to get out of that arch of the lower back and move into a more neutral or even slightly posterior pelvic tilt.  This allows us to use the power we generated with our lower half effectively and deliver it to the ball. Eric Cressey (@ericCressey) and Matt Blake do a great job of giving a detailed explanation of this in a blog post here: https://ericcressey.com/pitching-performance-trunk-position-foot-strike-1.

What We See in the Clinic

At Complete Game PT we have started off season screenings for area youth baseball players and we are seeing a lot of trouble with control of pelvic tilt.  Whether it’s due to poor anterior core strength, poor glute strength, tight hip flexors or just poor motor control kids have a really hard time moving from an anterior pelvic tilt to posterior.  This can lead to poor performance due to lack of power hitting or throwing or even worse injury to the back or hips. Problems with core control have also been related to shoulder and elbow injuries in throwers.

Pelvic Tilt Test

A simple test you can do to see if you or your athlete has trouble with controlling pelvic tilt is to stand in your hitting stride or pitching stride position and simply see if you can tilt your pelvis by arching your low back, then flattening your low back, then try to find the neutral position right in between.  If you have trouble doing this stand with your back against a wall with your feet about 18 inches from the wall and try to flatten your back against the wall. If you have trouble with that next step is to try doing the same thing laying flat on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the floor. You should be able to move from anterior tilt to posterior and back to neutral easily and smoothly.

This test turns into a great exercise to work on if you have difficulty with the pelvic tilt in any of the positions mentioned above.  It is also a great example of how problems further down the chain like hip and core control can relate to poor performance or even injury further up the chain in the shoulder or elbow.  If you have any questions or would like to get you or your athlete assessed give us a call at Complete Game PT 978-710-7204 or email me at gcrossman@completegampt.com.




Tips to Help Prevent Injury for the Ex Ballplayer Returning to the Field

58c7f0d2e665570916c653ec.png

After a few years away from playing baseball, I’ve decided to join a men’s adult baseball fall league or, as my kids affectionately call it, the “old man baseball league.”  Having seen many former players who have returned to baseball or softball in the PT clinic over the years, I thought I would put together some tips to help reduce the likelihood of injury.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to return to the field.

  1. Warm up.  We may remember the days where we could just show up to the field and get right out there and play.  Unfortunately, as we age, those days are over. Having some form of warm up is key to preventing injuries such as muscle strains and tears.  Do some light jogging and follow with gentle stretching or a dynamic warm up such as body weight squats and lunges to get the blood flowing and loosen up your muscles before you play.

  2. Be careful with sprinting.  As we age, we lose muscle mass, particularly the fast twitch muscle fibers that are used with sprinting type activities.  Combine that with tight hamstrings due to sitting at a desk all day and you have the perfect situation for hamstring tears.  Don’t let your first sprint be when you are trying to leg out a double. Practice some sprints before you play by slowly progressing your sprinting.  Start at 50% speed, increase to 75%, and then build to full speed.

  3. Build up throwing slowly.  Just as you should increase your sprint gradually, you should build your throwing slowly as well.  Overhead throwing is not a natural motion for the body and, again, if you sit at a desk for much of the day or just generally have bad posture, the throwing motion is even less natural.  When you return to throwing, slowly build the number and distance of throws you make. If you start to feel pain in your shoulder or elbow, stop, get some ice on it and rest. If the pain doesn’t go away, see a medical professional.  I’ve seen many people who returned to throwing after a long lay off, tried to throw through pain and ended up with shoulder impingement or rotator cuff tears.

These tips are not only helpful for baseball but also soccer, basketball or even playing back yard touch football.  Follow these tips to help stay injury free and on the field!

 At Complete Game Physical Therapy we help athletes and active individuals of all ages get back to the sports and activities they love without missing valuable playing time or losing their competitive advantage.  For more information or to make an appointment call 978-710-7204 or email Greg at gcrossman@completegamept.com.