Top 5 Injuries in Baseball
Posted on 4/19/2021
While it is America’s favorite pastime, baseball is known for being a slower paced and long duration sport that can place strain on the body. Although this sport is typically low in intensity, it can lead to overuse injuries due to the repetitive motion of it. A pitcher can typically throw more than 100 pitches a game.1 Now imagine doing that 65+ games a season; that’s a total of more than 6,500 pitches in a year. This volume can lead to multiple injuries in pitchers. Additionally, position players combine the volume and intensity of throws with hitting and base running. So, although baseball may seem like a simple game, the different components can take a toll on the body.
Some of the most common injuries in baseball include both upper and lower body injuries.2, 3 They include:
Rotator cuff tears
Rotator cuff tears are common in baseball players, especially players who perform repetitive, high intensity throwing motions, such as pitchers. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that work together to help to rotate your shoulder and arm away from and toward the body. The act of pitching over and over can wear down the structures attached to these four muscles, leading to a break down in the long run. This then leads to the muscle tearing. If found fast enough before the tear, this injury can be helped with a licensed physical therapist. However, if the muscle is fully torn surgery will likely be needed.
The UCL is the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow; more commonly known as the Tommy John ligament. The volume of throwing in baseball players can cause added stress on the bones and tissues of the elbow and this repeated motion can lead to injures and even full and partial tears of this structure. In some cases, this injury can cause a pins and needles feeling in the ring and pinky finger, causing an athlete to not be able to grip a ball. Most cases can be fixed with rest and physical therapy; however, some cases may require surgery.
The labrum is a structure in the shoulder that helps keep the shoulder socket tight. A tear is caused by the overuse nature of baseball. This injury typically appears as the shoulder joint locking up or with weakness of the shoulder. A labral tear is typically spotted by a doctor and can be either repaired surgically or with physical therapy and rest.
Knee injuries, although less common than other higher intensity sports, are still possible in baseball. Injury normally occurs during base running. The sudden stopping, sliding and quick changes in direction can cause an athlete’s knee to give out, leading to a sprain or tear of the MCL or ACL. Injury to these ligaments typically appear with sudden pain and the sensation of popping or snapping inside the knee. Similar to UCL injuries, an ACL or MCL injury can often be fixed with physical therapy and rest. However, if the ligament is fully torn surgery is usually required.
Muscle sprain and strains
Like many other baseball injuries, muscle sprains and strains are usually due to overuse. In baseball, these types of injuries are common in the legs, arms and back. Symptoms for sprains and strains will vary based on the person and the seriousness of the injury. Typical symptoms include pain, weakness and muscle spasms, but they may also include bruising and swelling. These injuries rarely require surgery and can typically be solved with physical therapy and RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
With all injuries, a common theme is that working with a physical therapist can help for healing and strengthening both pre- and post-surgical intervention if necessary. If you have been injury, please request an injury screen at one of our convenient locations. With a guided treatment and exercise plan by a licensed physical therapist, you can be back to your sport in no time.