With softball season at hand, young athletes will be training heavily and it’s the job of coaches, parents and medical teams to keep an eye out for injuries that can often slip past unnoticed or unreported by players trying to “tough it out”. Since kids don’t always understand the dangers of not reporting pain, it’s important to check in frequently and ensure they don’t dismiss an injury that should be looked at by a medical professional.
Common Softball Injuries
Different parts of the body are put under unnatural stress when throwing a ball. This can cause damage to the joints, including:
- Labrum Tears: Excessive throwing can cause the connective tissue around the shoulder joint to tear, causing pain and instability.
- Rotator Cuff Tears: Another injury caused by overuse of the throwing arm is a tear in the muscle responsible for keeping the arm bone in place in the shoulder blade socket by absorbing strain and impact.
- Little League Shoulder or Elbow: Overdoing pitch count, even if it doesn’t cause a tear, can cause growth plates in the shoulder or elbow to become inflamed and painful.
- UCL Tears: The ligament in the elbow that helps keep both arm bones stable can tear under repeated stress, and may require surgery to repair.
- Golfer’s Elbow: Inflammation of the tissue connecting the forearm muscles to the elbow can be caused by overuse of the arm over the course of training.
Preventing Softball Injuries
As is obvious, most softball (and baseball) injuries occur at the shoulder or elbow of the throwing arm, and are triggered by overuse. Safeguards against injury include:
- Proper warm up routines and cool down routines
- Wearing properly sized and fitted gear
- Following pitch counts for baseball (even for softball leagues)
- Avoiding playing for more than one softball team in a season
- Avoiding playing softball year-round
- Avoiding playing both catcher and pitcher positions in a single game
- Training properly with a qualified coach
- Throwing using the entire body, including hips and legs, not just the arm
After every practice or game, each young athlete should be asked to sit quietly for a moment with their eyes closed, and focus on the different parts of their body. Any pain should be reported and checked out. If pain appears after a practice or game, is chronic, or is severe enough to wake the player up at night, the help of a qualified sports medicine physician like Dr. Strasburger should be sought. If your young softball player has pain, call our office for a consultation.