After a long winter, baseball and softball players are eager to hit the field. As we celebrate National Athletic Training Month in March, Akron Children’s certified athletic trainers like Mark Stefanik are dedicated to helping baseball and softball players stay well throughout the season.
“The most common injuries I see for baseball and softball players are shoulder tendonitis and/or shoulder impingement,” Mark said. “They are caused by weakness or tightness in the shoulder muscles – and often overdoing a specific movement involved in their sport. Even sleep positioning can complicate an issue with injuries involving the shoulder.”
Reducing risk of overuse injuries
Mark, who has been working with Copley High School athletes for nearly 14 years, offers these tips for keeping baseball and softball players healthy:
1. Work on strengthening and conditioning all of the muscles in the shoulder, back and around the shoulder blade to keep the shoulder joint stable.
2. Warm up. Throwing athletes should complete a proper warmup routine that will prepare their arm for activity. A pitcher should complete a different pre-activity program than an outfielder or infielder would use.
3. Start slowly. Ease into the season with a light load of throwing activity that increases as the season approaches.
4. Don’t overdo it. Assigning pitching counts, having athletes play different positions and giving athletes days off should all be implemented to ensure players don’t exceed their bodies’ capabilities.
5. Ice down. Players who throw a lot should ice their throwing shoulder after activity to reduce the amount of irritation to the shoulder joint and muscles.
Mark’s last bit of advice: Don’t play though the pain. “Athletes who have pain or soreness in any part of their body should talk to their parents or coaches and see their school’s athletic trainer,” he said. “It is always important to seek proper medical advice to keep young athletes playing the sports they love.”
To learn more about Akron Children’s Sports Medicine program, click here.