injury prevention

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.

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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.

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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.


New Year… New (Injury-Free) You!

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Five tips to avoid overdoing it with New Year’s fitness resolutions

Every year we see patients come into the clinic who had the best intentions with New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, but who, instead, end up injured.  We’ve seen muscle strains, tendonitis, back injuries, and even tendon and muscle tears in people who overdo it with their fitness resolutions.  So whether your plan is to run more, lift more, or do more yoga, here are some tips to reduce the likelihood that you will suffer a setback due to injury.

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  1. Make stretching part of your routine.  Often, especially with running and weight lifting, people don’t plan an appropriate amount of time for stretching.  You should allow enough time for a short, light stretch before exercise, and 5-10 minutes for more thorough stretching after your workout.

  2. Ease into it. Trying to jump back into the same kind of workouts you did 10 years ago is a sure way to get hurt.  Take it slow and gradually build up your workouts.  This will give your body time to adjust to your new program.

  3. Build a well rounded routine.  Running, lifting weights or even yoga every day is not good for your body.  If you tend to be a tighter, less flexible person, look to incorporate stretching into your regular routine.  If you tend be more flexible, add some strength training.  Building balance between strength and flexibility will help your body be more resilient and reduce your likelihood of injury.

  4. Careful with group classes. Though group classes are a great way to work out because they are fun, motivating and reasonably priced, be careful when working out in the group setting.  Especially around the new year, there tends to be a big influx in people signing up for these classes.  If the trainer hasn’t assessed you, they may not know what exercises your body can and can’t do.  Also, be careful if you have a competitive nature. The person next to you may be lifting a 60 pound dumbbell overhead, but that doesn’t mean you should too!

  5. Get a movement assessment.  Starting up a new fitness routine without a clear understanding of your specific deficits in strength, flexibility and balance will make your workouts less efficient and can lead to injury.  Many personal trainers and all physical therapists are trained to assess your fundamental functional movements.  Find a trainer or PT near you who offers movement screens. The small price in time and money you spend will pay off in the long run.

Happy New Year and good luck with your fitness goals!


If you have any questions or would like more information on setting up a movement screen please contact Greg at Complete Game Physical Therapy, 978-710-7204 or gcrossman@completegamept.com.

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

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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.

3 Keys to Proper Cool Down

I was recently approached by a local youth basketball coach who asked “I have heard so much about the importance of proper warm up before practice and games, but what about cool down?” What a great question. Though I often inform my patients and athletes about the importance of proper stretching and cooling down after working out, I had never been asked by a coach how to properly cool down his or her team. Here are the 3 keys to proper cool down.

1.)  Injury Prevention

At the end of practice or following games is the perfect time to do a few exercises to help reduce the likelihood for injury.  Most non contact injuries, be it ankle sprains or ACL tears, occur when athletes are fatigued. Performing some simple balance exercises can help improve control and reduce the likelihood for injury.

Single Leg Balance:

Simply standing on one leg will help with balance and neuromuscular control.  Focus should be on proper alignment, keeping knee in line with the foot and maintaining an athletic position. 

Balance and Reach:

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Balancing while reaching out with the other leg challenges balance and control even further.  Focus should continue to be on maintaining proper alignment and control with the balance leg.

2.)  Light Static Stretching

Doing some light static stretching is a key part of proper cool down, particularly with youth athletes.  Youth athletes are often going through “growth spurts” where the athlete’s muscle length doesn’t always keep up with bone growth.  This often leads to problems such as Sever’s disease (heel pain) or Osgood-schlatter’s (knee pain).  Here are a couple of stretches that can help with this.

Quad Stretch:

Calf Stretch:

3.)  Breathing

The third key to proper cool down is performing some deep breathing.  During practice and games athlete’s sympathetic nervous system gets fired up.  This is the fight or flight response of the nervous system that can is helpful when in stressful or competitive situations, but can leave the athlete feeling anxious or stressed after.  Taking 10-15 deep breaths will help athletes “wind down” and get in a more relaxed state of mind.  This is also a great opportunity for the coach to talk about the positive things that happened during the practice or game.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that should be included in a cool down, but a few items that can be easily implemented.  For more information on this subject please refer to Mike Robertson at http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/. He does a great job of getting really in depth about this subject.  For more info on breathing, which is helpful both in training and daily life, Brett Jones does a great job reviewing it in the video that can be found here: http://www.functionalmovement.com/articles/Screening/2015-08-19_breathing_corrective_strategies_techniques.

 

If you are interested in having Complete Game Physical Therapy perform a youth injury risk screening on your athletes, or are interested in any of our services, contact us at 978-710-7204.