(Long Island, N.Y.) With one crack of the bat, suddenly it’s baseball season. Baseball is a great team sport to get the kids involved in, there are some precautions parents and coaches can take to keep kids safe and prevent future injuries.
Tony Wanich MD, Attending Surgeon, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center believes that with the proper precautions and appropriate preseason training and conditioning, the vast majority of baseball injuries, which are increasingly common among young athletes due to high demands and expectations, can be prevented.
The most common injuries, says Dr. Wanich, involve the shoulder and elbow and are typically due to overuse. The best approach is prevention through appropriate conditioning, training and following safe guidelines for play. Here are six safety tips from Dr. Wanich on how to play ball without injuries.
- Warm up: Establish a consistent warm up routine prior to any athletic activity, include a stretching program where stretches are held for 30 seconds.
- Run it out: is a key component in pre-activity warm-up and preseason conditioning, and is an important way for pitchers to develop endurance and stamina and for position players to develop speed and agility.
- Build strength: Strength training is essential for baseball players, special attention needs to be paid to the rotator cuff, biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles.
- Don’t overdo it: The adage that practice makes perfect is not always the case in baseball – it is important to avoid pitching on consecutive days.
- Mastery first: Youth pitchers should focus on developing accuracy and control through good pitching mechanics, focus on mastering the fastball before moving on to other types of pitches.
- Communication is key: Communication between players, parents and coaches is an easy way to identify problems before they become more significant injuries. Persistent pain, which does not improve with rest, should be evaluated by a Sports Medicine specialist.
Play by the rules. Little League Baseball has established a set of age-appropriate pitch count guidelines which both coaches and parents should follow to avoid overuse injuries. They have also established a set of guidelines regarding the amount of rest needed between games depending on the number of pitches thrown. Dr. Wanich believes it is important that parents take these guidelines into consideration and advises that most injuries can be treated non-operatively if addressed early enough.