Baseball Season: Back Pain Prevention for Athletes

baseball player swinging a bat

Baseball season is in full swing, and it's crucial for athletes to prioritize injury prevention and proper training techniques. As the popularity of travel leagues and winter leagues continues to grow, young athletes are at a higher risk of overuse injuries. Read more about maintaining optimal performance and reducing the likelihood of back injuries in competitive youth sports.

Understanding Back Pain in Baseball and Softball

Research has shown that infielders experience the most visits to orthopedists for back and spine injuries compared to other positions in baseball and softball. This surprising finding challenges the common belief that catchers would be the most prone to back pain.

Catchers are constantly moving from standing to a good squat position, maintaining flexibility in the spine and hips, all the way down to the Achilles tendons and the plantar fascia on the bottoms of their feet. A good squat position requires a strong core to protect the spine. This is consistent whether they are in practice or in a game.

What do the infielders have to do?  Their practices consist of fielding multiple ground balls typically flexing their spines in a repetitive fashion. However, at game time you may just have to take a few balls, but the position demands you to move from the ready position to a bent forward position in a split second with great explosiveness. This requires the players to be well-trained off the field to make these variable transitions easier.


Protecting Your Back During Swings

Executing an effective, injury-free swing in baseball requires a precise connection from the eyes to the ground and back up as the hitter winds up and uncoils during the swing phase. The swing engages various muscle groups, but the core muscles, including the gluteal muscles, low back muscles, and abdominal wall, play a vital role in connecting the power generated from the legs to the upper torso and shoulders.

Developing core engagement without conscious effort is crucial for hitters. Physical therapy and personal training incorporating weight resistance and functional movements can help hitters protect their backs and learn proper core engagement techniques.


Preventing Baseball Injuries through Core Stabilization

Core stabilization exercises play a significant role in injury prevention for baseball players. Exercises such as the "dead bug", abdominal crunches, planks, bridging, wall sits, and physioball exercises can train the deep core muscles to engage instinctively. When facing a 90 mph pitch, engaging the core must become an automatic response. Identifying flexibility issues and improving fast twitch muscle engagement for speed and explosiveness are also key areas to focus on with the guidance of a skilled therapist or personal trainer.


Common Back Injuries in Baseball and Recovery

Intervertebral disk injuries and spine joint injuries are prevalent among baseball players. Adolescent athletes often experience stress injuries called spondylolysis, which result from overuse and improper conditioning. While most injuries in baseball and softball do not require spine surgery, prescribed rest and active rehabilitation are crucial for the healing process. Unfortunately, some injuries may end a season prematurely, underscoring the importance of prevention through dedicated off-season training, flexibility maintenance, and core strength.

Take the time before and after practice to do your core exercises and you will be well on your way to an injury free season and successful summer season.


Schedule an Appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon Near You

If you're experiencing pain or have an injury related to baseball or softball, it's important to seek medical attention from an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. Our top-notch orthopedic surgeons at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics are experienced in treating athletes of all levels, from youth players to professional MLB athletes. Easily schedule an appointment with our expert team in Nashville, TN, or Franklin, TN.


Enjoy a Safe and Successful Baseball Season

By prioritizing injury prevention, core training, and seeking appropriate medical care, baseball and softball athletes can maximize their performance and minimize the risk of injuries. Take the time to incorporate core exercises into your routine before and after practice, and you'll be on your way to a successful and injury-free season.

Dr. R. Christopher Glattes

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