Along with the warm temperatures and long daylight hours of summer comes the irresistible urge to play outside. Maybe that is why millions of Americans participate in organized softball leagues.
Though playing softball is a great way to get fresh air, spend time with friends, and impress co-workers with your athletic prowess, it is not quite the injury-free, non-contact sport many participants believe it to be. In fact, softball injuries can lead to emergency room visits. Some common injuries include:
Luckily, many of these injuries are preventable. The key is to stay in shape all year long.
Take a cue from the pros and take steps to prevent injuries before the season begins.
An important thing for softballers to work on is flexibility. Softball entails a lot of starting and stopping, bending and twisting, and bursts of motion. Good flexibility will save you from a lot of the strains and tears. Consider a comprehensive stretching program all year, paying plenty of attention to calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, trunk muscles, shoulders, and arms. Yoga can also help you gain flexibility.
In the off-season, you can also work on developing muscle strength in both the upper and lower body. Focus should be on the shoulders. Throwing a ball incorrectly or without proper strength in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist can lead to injury.
Cardiovascular training is important. It will build up your endurance, which is handy when you are running around a softball field. Try biking, jogging, swimming, cross-country skiing, or some other aerobic exercise to build up a base level of aerobic fitness. Make sure that your aerobic training includes sprint work. Sprinting will help your speed, agility, and give you that quick burst of speed that you will need to steal a base or chase a ball.
You spent the off-season getting ready for spring. Now what? You are almost ready to take the field. Before you do, make sure you warm up in advance at each practice and game. Here are some tips to get moving:
Many softball injuries are throwing-related or sliding-related. Proper technique can save you from many of these. Work with a coach or an experienced player to make sure your technique is correct.
Learning the proper way to slide takes practice. Start out with a sliding bag. When you work your way up to bases, always use a breakaway base.
The same goes for throwing: You need to do it right. Your whole body should be used during a throw, from your legs, through your trunk, to your shoulder and down your arm. Improper technique can cause a lot of pain. And never throw too hard, too fast. Start by throwing short distances, softly.
There are plenty of simple steps you can take to make a softball game safer. Here are some examples:
When the sun sets on the summer and you make your last dash to the dugout, start thinking about your fall and winter workout plans. It will improve your game and help keep you safe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Public Health Agency of Canada
Baseball injury prevention. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00185. Updated June 2011. Accessed August 25, 2016.
Injury prevention programs. ASCM team physician course Feb 2013. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://forms.acsm.org/TPC/PDFs/19%20Gillespie.pdf. Updated December 14, 2012. Accessed August 25, 2016.
Preventing softball injuries. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine—Stop Sports Injuries website. Available at: http://www.sportsmed.org/aossmimis/stop/downloads/Softball.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2016.
Softball—What should you do in the fall? Softball Performance website. Available at: http://www.softballperformance.com/softball-what-should-you-do-in-the-fall. Accessed August 25, 2016.
Last reviewed August 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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