Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on August 31, 2021

Baseball is a very popular sport – especially among youth. But playing baseball leaves you at risk for injuries that may affect you for the rest of your life. Learn how to treat and prevent common baseball injuries.

Overuse Injuries

Shoulder and elbow injuries. Throwing is the most common movement in baseball that leads to overuse injuries. The motion and force of pitching a ball over and over again impacts tissue in the thrower's elbow and shoulder. These injuries can happen at a young age and can impact someone for a long time.

In teenagers, the growth plate, skeleton, ligaments, and tendons are still developing. Stress from pitching can impact development. For younger players, elbow injuries are more common because the skeleton hasn’t fully developed. Players between the ages of 11 and 17 are more likely to sustain overuse injuries to their shoulders.

Knee injuries. Catchers squat down behind home plate for long periods of time and pivot from side to side to catch balls that a player doesn’t hit. Staying in a squatting position can cause overuse injuries to the knees. In fact, overuse causes around half of all injuries in baseball.

Treating overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are common but still require medical care from your doctor. Depending on your age and needs, you may get a prescription for an anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling in your elbow, shoulder, or knees.

You can apply ice in increments of 15 to 20 minutes as needed to help with swelling. Once the injury heals, you may consider wearing a brace to help support your injured area for future baseball activities.

Prior to playing games in the future, you should warm up and then stretch so your muscles and ligaments are ready for throwing or catching. You can also increase strength training with an emphasis on the muscles around your elbows, shoulders, or knees.

Achilles Tendon Injuries

Your Achilles tendon attaches the back of your leg to your heel. It also controls your ability to push off forcefully with your foot, to run, or to make sudden movements. When you participate in high-stress activities, you weaken your Achilles tendon over time, leaving it vulnerable to rupture.

Treating Achilles tendon injuries. Injury to this tendon requires immediate medical attention. If the rupture is severe and it heals without proper care, it may leave scar tissue that impacts your range of motion. Your doctor may suggest a cast to stabilize your leg and heel while the injury heals. In some cases, you may need surgery to repair the rupture.

Concussion

Players risk being hit in the head with a baseball or bat, or by another player during a baseball game. If the impact is severe enough, it can cause temporary brain damage that changes your brain activity. If you suspect that you've sustained a concussion during a baseball game, you should talk to a medical professional immediately. Signs of a concussion during a baseball game include:

  • Severe headache
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting soon after the injury
  • Inability to answer questions or difficulty speaking normally‌
  • Sensitivity to the sun and other lights

Treating concussions. It takes time to heal from a head injury. Rest and avoid strenuous activity that may make your condition worse. Your doctor can complete tests to see how bad your concussion is and determine how long you need to rest. A concussion may mean sitting out some of your upcoming baseball games and getting back into the sport slowly when you’re ready.

Heat Injuries

Baseball season begins in the spring and runs through the entire summer when it is hottest outside. Players that practice and play games outside in the heat risk injuries related to getting too hot. Common heat injuries include heat stroke, cramping, and dehydration.

Treating heat-related injuries. The best way to stay cool while playing baseball is to stay hydrated. Drink water and sports drinks that contain the electrolytes your body needs. Pay attention to signs that you need to take a break before you suffer a heat-related injury.

Preventing Baseball Injuries

The best way to address baseball injuries is to prevent them. Tips for preventing baseball injuries include:

  • Taking time to warm up and then stretch before playing a game or practicing
  • Wearing all safety equipment and ensuring it fits properly 
  • Wearing batting helmets and face protectors while at the plate or waiting for a turn at batting
  • Following guidelines for the number of innings that a player can pitch in a time period
  • Using the right baseball gloves for each position on the field
  • Wearing well-fitting shoes with cleats for the best grip on the field‌
  • Inspecting the field for holes, trash, and other debris that may be hazardous for players

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Children’s Hospital Colorado: “Why are we experts at caring for young athletes who play baseball?”

HSS: “Achilles Tendon Rupture Injuries.”

John Hopkins Medicine: “Heat-Related Illness and Young Athletes: 3 Important Things Parents and Coaches Need to Know,” “Sports Injuries.” 

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