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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.