Springtime is here, with that comes one of Americas favorite pastimes, Softball and Baseball season. During Softball or Baseball season it’s important to keep yourself safe and healthy, particularly on the field. With practice starting in the next few weeks we are always more successful when we take safety to the “field”. Below are a few tips to keep you “in the game” for a few more innings.
The majority of injuries in baseball and softball are minor, consisting mostly of abrasions (scrapes), sprains, strains, and fractures. Many of these injuries are to the ankle and knee. Eye injuries are also common in baseball. In fact, baseball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in children. Catastrophic injuries in baseball and softball are rare. They occur most often when players are struck in the head or chest with a ball or a bat. On average, 3 children under age 15 die each year from baseball-related injuries.
Proper conditioning exercises, drinking plenty of water, and eating a balanced diet go a long way in preventing soft tissue strains and impact fractures that result from sliding into bases and being hit by a baseball or softball. Sunburns are also very common injuries that kids sustain in sports. Wearing sunscreen, even if wearing a hat or helmet, can help to prevent sunburns. Even cool, cloudy days can cause sunburn if ultraviolet conditions are high. Another condition that sends many to the emergency room every year is allergic reactions. Many players have food allergies, such as a peanut allergy. Therefore, it is important to avoid eating snacks like granola bars and ice cream, if someone on the team has a food allergy. Fruit and bottled water make excellent, safe snacks for most children and provide natural sugars for staying energized in the game.
- Pitching Too Long or Too Many Innings — Many injuries occur from excessive pitching. Most organized baseball leagues have guidelines about the number of innings that can be pitched, usually based on the player’s age. While there is no concrete guideline for the number of pitches allowed, a reasonable approach is to count the number of pitches thrown and use 80 to 100 pitches as a maximum in a game, and 30 to 40 pitches in a practice. Any persistent pain should disqualify a person from playing until pain subsides.
- Breakaway bases — Many players get injured while sliding into bases. Installing breakaway bases on playing fields could significantly lower the number of these mishaps. A breakaway base is snapped onto grommets attached to an anchored rubber mat that holds it in place during play. When a runner slides into the base, it can be dislodged to avoid direct contact and injury. During normal base running, the breakaway base is stable and will not detach.
- Protective gear — Protective equipment is one of the most important factors in minimizing the risk of injury in baseball. This equipment must fit properly and be worn correctly.
Wear a batting helmet at the plate, when waiting a turn at bat, and when running bases.
- Face masks that are attached to batting helmets are available in some youth leagues. These devices can help reduce the risk of a serious facial injury if hit by a ball.
- The catcher must always use a catcher’s mitt. If you play another position, ask your coach about specific size requirements for your mitt.
- Catchers should always wear a helmet, face mask, throat guard, long-model chest protector, protective supporter, and shin guards when catching batting practice and during games.
- Most youth leagues prohibit the use of shoes with steel spikes. Instead, wear molded, cleated baseball shoes.
- Inspect the playing field for holes, glass, rocks, and other debris.
- Stay in condition year-round with some form of regular exercise. Start with something as simple as brisk walking.
- Someone (a teammate, referee or spectator) should know first aid. Make sure someone on your team carries first aid equipment, particularly ice or ice packs.
- Don’t go straight from your car onto the field. Arrive early and warm up with a walk or an easy jog. With sports where there are bursts of vigorous activity interspersed with inactivity, it’s a good idea to move around or stretch during the idle periods.
- Stretch before the game, but not when your muscles are cold. Warm up a little first, and then stretch gently. Afterwards, if you have had a vigorous workout, you can stretch more intensely. Learn stretches that are appropriate for your sport. Getting your muscles warmed up and stretched out prior to game time or practice can alleviate sprains, strains and muscle pulls injuries.
- Drink plenty of water or other fluids such as sports drinks during and after the game.
- Teach yourself not to play through pain. If you get injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor’s orders for recovery, and get the doctor’s OK before your child returns to play. If you start to feel pain, discomfort or fatigue, get your coach to put in a substitute. Don’t overdo it.
Remember, you don’t have to be on a baseball diamond to get hurt. Make sure you wear safety gear and follows safety rules during informal baseball and softball games, too.
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety & Security Manager for Plateau