Avoiding Baseball and Softball Injuries
Spring is almost here, and with it the start of the baseball and softball seasons. But before athletes pick up their bat or glove to get their rusty winter bodies back in shape, they should prepare their bodies for their sport. Athletes should not expect to get in shape just by playing ball–at least not without risking injuries. Instead, they should begin their spring training with warm-up, stretching, cardiovascular conditioning, and strength training. A cool down and more stretching should follow training.
Athletic trainers now recognize that lack of proper conditioning is one of the major causes of sport injuries. There are many muscles which should be stretched to prepare for baseball or softball, including the front and backs of thighs, calves, buttock, inner and outer thighs and front of hips.
The shoulder and elbow are the two most often injured areas in softball and baseball players. The following stretches should be done after a brief warm-up before a practice or game and again after a practice or game to prevent injury and enhance athletic ability. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat three to five times.
Sidelying Internal Rotation
Lying on the right side with the underneath arm extended forward, away from the body, bend the right elbow to raise the forearm into the air. Use the left hand to grasp the right wrist (palm facing down) and gradually push it toward the floor. Repeat on the left side.
Stand in a corner with arms bent at the elbows, raised to shoulder level and outstretched to either side. Rest palms and forearms against either wall. Lean chest into wall to feel a stretch.
Inferior Cuff Stretch
Other portions of the rotator cuff can be stretched by reaching overhead and gently pulling the elbow behind the head with the opposite hand.
Posterior Cuff Stretch
The back portion of the shoulder joint can be stretched by extending the right arm at shoulder level, placing the left hand on the right elbow and gently pulling the extended arm across the body. Repeat on the left side.
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