Baseball is a fun sport that is easy to join and play. Like any sport, though, baseball can lead to a variety of injuries either through accidents or poor technique. A common group of injuries among baseball players include injuries to the lower extremities. Three such common injuries are Plantar Fasciitis, Turf Toe and Achilles Tendinitis.
While the general causes of these injuries are well understood, preventing them from happening is still a long way off. There are some preventative measures which have proven effective, in part because of recent efforts by professional teams to embrace new ideas that promote flexibility and nutrition.
Cause of Injury
When engaged in any sport which involves running, these common injuries are a likely risk for many athletes. When running, the feet and legs are subject to extremes in movement. The impact of running, combined with sudden changes of direction and dead stops, are the main contributing factors to injury.
Without measures to reduce the effect of these movements, the reality is that baseball players will continue to suffer from injury. Despite extensive research on the subject, very little has been discovered in the way of preventing injury. However, it has been established that changing running techniques can greatly reduce the risk of running related injuries.
Accounting for around 10 percent of injuries in sports clinics, Plantar Fasciitis can force baseball players off the field for long periods of time. The Plantar Fascia is a ligament which runs from the heel bone to the toes. When there is undue stress on the ligament, due to factors including extended abnormal motion and plane deformity, the athlete will begin to experience pain and discomfort in the heel.
Pain and inflammation can become so severe that putting any weight or pressure on the foot is unbearable. Plantar Fasciitis has been observed more often in athletes with a high arch, as the foot is not as efficient when force is applied during heel strike.
As part of rehab, it is important to address both the condition and risk of recurrence. Training the athlete to change gait can significantly reduce the chances of another injury. Soft tissue therapy is an essential part of rehabilitation. However, overall treatment is based on a full assessment of contributing factors including physiology and a movement evaluation.
A group of injuries which affect the structures surrounding the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MPJ) are commonly referred to as Turf Toe. These injuries are most commonly associated with hyperextension of the plantar capsule. Turf Toe can happen during a number of movements in baseball, including jumping, running, sliding, or running into a wall.
From a clinical point of view, observation is perhaps the most crucial tool during evaluation. By observing the athlete through his full range of movement, it is much easier to establish the cause of the injury and which variation of Turf Toe is at play.
Once an evaluation of the patient and movement has been completed, it is important to provide rehabilitation and training to avoid further injury. There are a number of suitable exercises and techniques, such as improving Achilles, calf and peroneal flexibility.
Considering that Achilles Tendinitis can occur from excessive walking, it is no surprise that it is a common injury in a game like baseball that involves so much walking and running. Excessive stress on the Achilles tendon results from a whipping of the tendon during running or take off actions. The condition can also arise from issues with the muscles, such as weakness or stress. There are other contributing factors in athletes with differences in leg length.
Due to the multitude of possible contributing factors, it is important for us to carry out a full evaluation on a patient. The evaluation should focus on the hamstring, calf, leg length, and signs of weak muscles. Therapy is typically successful so long as a thorough evaluation is carried out and recommended actions reflect appropriate changes for the specific patient.
At Step By Step we have extensive experience in treating and providing therapy for sporting injuries. If you have become injured through playing baseball – or any other sport, contact our practice to set up an initial consultation today.