Safe Baseball 101 | The Ultimate Guide to Injury Prevention in Baseball
Nothing ruins a great game of pickup softball with the squad like an ankle sprain, a torn shoulder or a dirt nap on home base causing you to fracture your knee. Baseball might not be a full-contact sport like football or MMA, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself hurt out on the field. On the more serious end of injuries, it’s not unheard of for unprepared players to tear their ACL or even get a concussion.
Safe baseball is fun baseball. You’ll enjoy yourself more on the field and get a lot more out of the game if you’re not running the risk of injuring yourself or worrying about doing so. With that in mind, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to common baseball injuries and how to prevent them. We also offer tips for keeping your children out of harm’s way so every member of the family can fully enjoy the Great American Pastime.
The Biggest Offenders
We often think of sports injuries as occurring due to high speed and heavy contact. To stay safe in baseball, however, a pitcher or outfielder needs to take as much care as the person running the bases. Catchers have head protection to protect from speeding baseballs, but few such safeguards are in place for the elbows and shoulders of those players most commonly handling the ball.
The Rothman Orthopedic Institute notes that the most common baseball injuries happen to pitchers; these injuries include muscle sprains and strains, labral tears of the shoulder socket, and the dreaded rotator cuff injury.
But safe baseball doesn’t start and end with the pitcher. Anyone sprinting and dashing across the field is going to be putting a lot of strain on their knees and ankles, and that puts the entire region of lower extremities at risk. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia estimates that around one in 100 kids who play the sport will get an ACL tear, which is a brutal injury that can put not just gameplay but much of ordinary life on hold if not treated effectively and immediately.
Ankle sprains can also plague players who don’t run properly. While less severe than an ACL tear, this type of injury can still be extremely painful and leave you laid up for longer than you have to be.
Let’s take a look at how these and other types of injuries can be avoided.
An Ounce of Prevention
Obviously, there are many kinds of baseball injuries that affect different parts of the body. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to negating injury, you can still increase the odds of having a safe game of baseball by performing some easy routines and keeping a couple of things in mind.
Proper stretching and conditioning are going to be paramount for any ballplayer, not just to mitigate the risk of injury but to bring your game to its peak potential. Some players think that, because the game doesn’t often involve smashing into other people and objects, they can afford to be more cavalier with how they prepare their bodies before game time. As illustrated in the previous section, nothing could be further from the truth. From stopping sprains to flummoxing fractures, safe baseball relies on keeping your body limber and strong for whatever might come your way.
It’s also important to learn the proper techniques for swinging, running and pitching the ball. Remember that baseball is a game of precision and skill as much or more so than it is one of force. You’ll be far less likely to injure your shoulder or twist your ankle sliding to third if you emphasize form and technique over raw power. “Be as water,” as the great Bruce Lee once said.
In addition to maintaining proper form, it’s critical to have the right equipment. While concussions in baseball are rarer than other forms of injury, they do still happen and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Every baseball player should have proper head protection, whether you’re playing in a casual pickup game or trying out for the minor or major leagues. In addition, the length of cleats you wear should always be adjusted based on the firmness and overall condition of the field turf you’re playing on.
Safe baseball requires that you cover all your bases (pun only somewhat intended), so look to make sure every part of your body is supported and protected before you hit the field.
Think of the Children
If safe baseball is important for adults, it’s absolutely imperative for kids. STOP Sports Injuries, a group of accredited sports medicine and pediatric care experts, notes that youth baseball injuries are on the rise, and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance reports that a shocking 8,000 children per day are treated for sports-related injuries in emergency rooms across America.
There are a couple of reasons why children’s sports injuries are so intense and commonplace. First, it’s important to keep in mind that children’s bodies are still growing. As such, the pre-to-mid-pubescent age range tends to be the most common span of time in which kids hurt themselves.
Why is it so hard to stay safe while playing baseball at this age? The body is literally restructuring itself in real time during these years, which means that bones, ligaments and other vitals are in a more malleable state and thus much more vulnerable to injury. Just like adults, kids require the proper training and conditioning, but with even greater emphasis on safety and moderation.
Secondly, as any parent of a rambunctious 4th grader can tell you, kids can be pretty cavalier when it comes to their own well-being. If you think it’s difficult to get a free-spirited kid to put on a helmet for bicycling, try convincing them they need to wear head protection for baseball. Kids love the thrill, the camaraderie and the physical release that youth sports can bring. Safe baseball is the furthest thing from their minds. It’s up to you to ensure that the proper gear is worn at all times.
The pre-game stretch is also critical. Children have a tendency to blow through the stretches as quickly as possible to get to the fun stuff, so keep a watchful eye on your group and make sure all of them are following through. Encourage the ones who are doing a great job, and emphasize that a safe baseball game is almost always a sign that the team is doing well. You can also play music or try to make a game out of stretching to better hold their attention.
Lastly, make sure you’re creating the sort of environment for your children or youth team that emphasizes their well-being over the number of points scored. If kids feel like they’ll let you down or get in trouble if they don’t win, they’re more likely to put themselves at risk of bodily harm in the pursuit of hitting runs. Let them know they can both win a baseball game and stay safe in the process. If push comes to shove, the latter is always more important than the former.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’ll talk about some effective braces you can wear not just to prevent and mitigate injury but to improve the quality of your game.
A shoulder brace will be vital for keeping your throwing arm safe for every baseball pitch as well as ensuring that force is distributed evenly throughout the upper body, making for cleaner and stronger throws overall. The DonJoy Sully is a magnificently comprehensive and strongly built option for this. It comes in a wide variety of sizes, offers adjustable straps for players of all different wingspans and arm lengths, and follows the natural subtleties of your muscle structure to make for the smoothest level of assistance possible.
Don’t neglect your knees, either; you’ll need to keep them fighting fit whether you’re rounding to third or sprinting from first to foil a tricky bunt. The Breg Economy Hinged Knee Brace is an affordable, full-featured and safe option for baseball players of all stripes. Our elastic knee braces are also subtle, made with the latest ergonomic science in mind for getting the most out of your lower ligaments. They also look pretty darn cool in the process.
And don’t forget about your elbows either. Pitchers and hitters alike need maximum comfort, mobility, and protection in their arms if they’re looking to win the game. Berg’s Essential Elbow sleeve is a fantastic starter option that gives you all the support you need, and the DonJoy hinged elbow guard provides a lightweight feel but with heavy-duty protection.
Staying safe in baseball doesn’t mean you have to look like a yutz in the process. Everyone knows the cliché of the meek kid in coke-bottle glasses wearing ungainly baseball head protection, but our guards, sleeves, and pads are more than just efficient. They make you look cool while making your game even better.
No Insult, No Injury
As stated, safe baseball is good baseball. If you’re keeping your body in the proper condition, using good form, and preparing yourself before every game with the right equipment and good braces, you aren’t just reducing your risk of injury; you’re also increasing your chances of scoring win after win. A little bit of dedication and preparation is all it takes to make baseball safe and successful for you and the whole team.
Remember to bookmark our blog and check back on the regular for more great guides and tips like this one. And for all the most up-to-date safety equipment for the best value on the web, shop SportsBraces.com and start raising your game today!
SportsBraces.com is an online reseller of orthopedic bracing products, catering to patients all across the country. With over 25 brands in our inventory, we offer unparalleled variety and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Jim Rulison, CEO of SportsBraces.com, prides himself on putting patients first and providing the best customer experience; that commitment is demonstrated daily by our dedicated SportsBraces customer care team. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email us at email@example.com.