Although it’s not a contact sport like football or hockey, softball can still take a toll on the body for all who play. Like all sports ailments, there are two types of injuries one can sustain by playing softball: overuse injuries, which occur over time due to stress on the muscles, joints, and soft tissues without proper time for healing; and acute or traumatic injuries, which occur due to sudden force or impact, and can be quite dramatic.
For those who partake in this American pastime at any level, here are some common injuries associated with the sport and what you can do to prevent them.
Shoulder injuries are the most common for softball players, especially for pitchers. Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, is very common in the shoulder or rotator cuff. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, causes a hindrance in shoulder motion. With any of these injuries can come general shoulder instability, in which the ball of the joint is not properly supported within the shoulder socket.
Elbow injuries are also very common in softball players. Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow, which are caused by overuse, can both be very painful. These occur when the muscles of the arm and forearm continuously tear the tendons over time. Bursitis of the elbow is also common, and arises when the cushion between the skin and the bone, or bursa, becomes inflamed and fills with fluid.
Back injuries are more common in catchers, who constantly squat over home plate, but like every other injury on this list, these can occur to anyone on the field. Common back overuse injuries include muscle strains and lower back pain. Generally the most severe traumatic back injuries are herniated disks, which are brought on by a sudden jolt to the spine.
Any sport involving sudden stops and starts puts you at risk for a knee injury. Although softball is not at the top of the list for knee injuries, players should watch out for ACL and MCL injuries. Tendonitis is also a foe of the knee, and can be brought about through overuse without proper support and rest.
While traumatic and acute injuries can’t always be avoided in softball, overuse injuries generally are. Here are some tips to keep you in the game:
- Warm up properly by running, stretching and throwing at an incremental distance.
- If you’re a pitcher, rotate your position.
- Avoid pitching for more than one team in same season.
- Do not play if you are in pain.
- Don’t pitch in more than two consecutive games until age 13.
- Don’t play year-round.
- Train yourself with an emphasis on control, accuracy and well-balanced mechanics.
- Be open and honest about how your body is feeling.
- Only play if cleared by a medical professional.
Have fun out there, and remember: there’s no crying in softball!