Baseball season is in full swing, and that means players of all ages or levels of professionalism need to take the proper steps to train and practice. A successful season, not to mention the overall health and well-being of the athlete, depends on the right training, as well as taking the proper precautions to avoid injury.
Injuries in athletes are a given, and in baseball, players are especially prone to elbow and shoulder injuries. Furthermore, elbow injuries in young athletes are higher than they have ever been. Oftentimes, elbow injury may go untreated for far too long. Pain and tenderness may be associated with overexertion or playing too hard, and many people don’t seek a diagnosis until the pain actually inhibits their performance.
At the very least, an athlete experiencing soreness should take some time to recuperate, adjust their practice to avoid exacerbating the injury, and train with an elbow sleeve to protect the joint. When pain persists and intensifies, however, it is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Gone untreated, elbow injuries can worsen in severity until they require surgery. Surgery, as you can guess, will likely keep you out of the game for the rest of the season.
Understanding Elbow Injuries
In baseball, playing almost any position exposes you to potential injury. While baseball might not be a high impact sport, the ball is thrown and hit at intense velocities. Throwing too hard, hitting too hard, and catching too many fast balls without rest may be factors—not to mention the physical impact of diving into a base. It is very possible that you will not realize you’ve injured your elbow right away. Without an obvious sound or instantaneous pain, a gradual elbow injury is easy to mistake for typical post-game fatigue. Often times, it isn’t until the day after where movement of the joint becomes painful.
The most typical form of elbow injury is a tear or strain of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The UCL is the ligament that stabilizes the motions of the joint, allowing you complete control over how you move your elbow. A torn UCL may require surgery and a difficult rehabilitation process. Fortunately, when you tear your UCL, chances are you’ll know right away, which allows you to seek immediate treatment.
Preventing and Treating Elbow Injuries
Many forms of elbow injuries, including a torn UCL, are totally preventable. Several key ways to prevent an elbow injury include:
- Ensuring that you warm up properly. Stretch sufficiently and practice some light pitching before the game.
- Remember you don’t have to be pitcher every time. Rotate positions every so often, especially if your elbow begins to feel sore.
- Adhere to regulations and pitch count guidelines to prevent overuse.
- If you do experience pain, do not pitch. See a doctor, and take some time to recover so the injury does not worsen.
- Don’t pitch on consecutive days.
- Practice proper form, and ensure you’re pitching correctly.
- Alter your pitching style whenever you can.
- Wear an elbow sleeve, like Enerskin. Enerskin is the cutting edge of athletic gear. Our innovative fusion of compression clothing and silicone-grade medical taping offers unparalleled support that not only enhances performance, but protects your elbow from injury and increases shock absorption—without impeding your movements.
If you are injured, treatment can vary depending on the severity of the condition. If you’ve simply overworked yourself, the soreness can be treated with plenty of rest and an adjusted training routine. Ice and Ibuprofen can help with pain and swelling. After you’ve rested for a sufficient amount of time, you can begin practicing (not playing!) again. However, it is important to tailor your regimen to your comfort level, and to avoid overexerting yourself before you are fully healed.
If soreness and swelling persist, despite resting the injured elbow, it is important to consult with a physician. An MRI scan or an X-Ray may be necessary, and once the doctor has performed all necessary examinations, they can prescribe the most appropriate form of treatment. Surgery may be necessary in some cases, and when it’s not, your doctor will tell you what other methods must be used to treat the injury.
One of the key features of Enerskin is that, in addition to protecting from injury, it can also promote faster and more efficient recovery. No matter the injury, you will eventually need to begin exercising again to regain full mobility and reintroduce yourself to baseball. The compression offered by our revolutionary GASTEX fabric, in conjunction with the muscular support that multiple layers of silicone taping provide, are ideal for the recovery process.
Enerskin stabilizes your movements and protects you from added strain. Our elbow sleeves keep the joint and surrounding muscles in place, and offer enough compression to prevent hyperextension. Wearing an Enerskin elbow sleeve as you slowly rehabilitate yourself will even decrease your recovery time.