Shoulder Care Tips for Baseball Players

Baseball may be America’s National Pastime, but it can also wreak havoc on a player’s shoulder, especially pitchers. That’s because certain movements, such as overhand throwing or sliding headfirst into a base, can put high levels of stress on the shoulder. And, when these motions become repetitive, they can increase your chances of suffering an injury. But you don't have to give up the game to avoid shoulder problems.

Thomas F. Saylor, MD, at Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida, has more than 20 years of experience treating injuries of the upper extremities, including the shoulder. Dr. Saylor recommends taking these steps to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder if you play baseball.

Types of baseball injuries

Dr. Saylor sees a lot of rotator cuff tears in baseball players. This cluster of muscles and tendons stabilizes your shoulder joint and allows your upper arm to move without slipping out of the shoulder socket. 

Other common shoulder injuries related to baseball include the following: 

Most of these injuries develop over time from repeating the same motion over and over again, which causes fraying, tearing, or damage to shoulder tissue. Because of this, there are several steps you can take to avoid putting too much strain on your body.

Focus on technique

First and foremost, Dr. Saylor stresses the importance of using the correct technique and body mechanics while playing baseball. The best way to correct any flaws in your movement is by asking a coach or trainer to watch your form and to practice regularly to continue improving and perfecting your technique.

Proper conditioning

It’s easy to focus on one part of your body when you’re an athlete, such as trying to strengthen your throwing arm if you’re a pitcher or outfielder. However, it’s crucial to strengthen, stretch, and condition all of your muscle groups to keep your body strong, stable, and balanced, including your upper back, core, hips, and hamstrings.

Similarly, always take time to warm up and cool down with gentle stretching before playing baseball or training.

Remember to rest

More than 30 million young people play organized sports, and nearly 300,000 sustain injuries playing baseball each year. And what are two of the leading causes of these injuries? Overtraining and not getting enough rest. 

Whether you’re an amateur or professional athlete, work with your coach or trainer to ensure that you have plenty of rest time in between games and workouts to give your shoulders a break.

Listen to your body

Have you ever heard the words “no pain, no gain”? That old adage often causes more harm than good, especially with athletes. Instead of pushing through pain, take a break and give your body a rest if you notice fatigue, weakness, or discomfort. Dr. Saylor suggests applying ice or a warm compress, doing gentle stretches, and taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to ease symptoms. 

If you don’t see improvement within 48 hours, schedule an appointment for evaluation and treatment.

Get expert care

If you’ve already sustained a shoulder injury, Dr. Saylor can help. After diagnosing your condition and the severity of your injury, he can outline a course of treatment to restore proper function. Common treatments for shoulder injuries include:

For more extensive injuries, Dr. Saylor also specializes in shoulder arthroscopy, so he can repair the damage using minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Do you play baseball? Don’t let shoulder pain send you to the dugout. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Orthopaedic Care Specialists today.

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