Whether it’s baseball, lacrosse, golf or tennis, spring sports are in full gear.
To avoid injuries, it’s critical to prepare and maintain your body’s physical condition for the demands of your sport. Jay Maccarella, PT, MSPT, Clinical Director of Bacharach’s Marlton location, offers some tips and tricks.
How can I prevent injury as I begin my spring sports/activities?
It is important to remember not to just jump right into your spring activities. It’s a good idea to give your body time to warm up – start your activity with a light walk or jog depending on your fitness level. Short duration static and dynamic stretching and mobility drills are also very good ways to prepare your body for what activity you will be doing that day. They increase your heart rate and warm your tissue which makes them pliable and ready for action.
Always be reasonable about the length of time you participate in your activity – even for non-sport activities such as gardening and mulching. You never want to do too much too soon.
Athletes can also visit Bacharach’s Marlton location for a Free Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which checks athletes for muscle asymmetry and imbalances that can make athletes more susceptible to injury. Athletes are put through seven different exercises and once any imbalances or muscle symmetries are identified, athletes are given corrective exercises to perform.
What are some common injuries associated with spring sports?
Baseball/Softball – In baseball you tend to see a lot of shoulder (rotator cuff) and elbow injuries. This is due to the repetitive throwing motion, but all types of injuries can happen, including: hamstring strains, hip injuries or trauma from a slide or being hit by the ball.
Golf/Tennis – Players can easily hurt their back in golf because the swing is complex motion and requires a lot of rotary mobility at higher speeds. The repetitive swing motion also causes a significant amount of microtrauma injuries at the elbow. This is why we call those injuries golfer’s and tennis elbow.
Lacrosse – We see a variety of injuries from concussions, due to stick to head impact, ankle/knee sprains, due to the quick cuts that players make, and ACL tears.
How can parents and coaches help spring athletes have a healthy start to the season?
If an athlete experiences any kind of discomfort or pain for a prolonged period, she should be taken to a sports physical therapist or orthopedic doctor for evaluation. Children should never attempt to play through pain although many kids and teenagers will try to push through in order to stay on the field. It is important to remind them that their health comes first and accomplishing their long-term goals require that they stay healthy first.
Coaches should place a lot of focus on their team’s warm-up, which are key to avoiding injury. They can also pay close attention to their players and be sure that the player is not overdoing it in terms of reps – whether it be kicks, throws, swings etc.
Of all the things children can do to stay healthy on the field, nothing beats hydration, a sufficient amount of rest each night and a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits and lean proteins.
Athletes lacking in any of these areas are clinically proven to be at a higher risk of injuries.
I also recommend that young athletes do not specialize in one sport too early. This, without a doubt,
leads to repetitive stress injuries and burnout. If an athlete isn’t having fun and playing a variety of activities at the age of 12, they are much more likely to be injured or experience burnout at the age of 18.
For more information or to set up an appointment, contact Jay Maccarella at 856-334-5177.