Today, nearly 30,000 players suffer an injury each year playing baseball. With so much strain put on their muscles and body alone, baseball players are more prone to overuse injuries in the shoulder, elbow and lower limbs. If you’re a baseball player and looking to stay injury free, below are five effective ways to prevent baseball injuries all season long.

1. Have a Strength and Conditioning Routine

Strength and conditioning exercises help baseball athletes remain strong and free from injuries. Incorporating conditioning exercises into your routine both during the season and off-season improves your athletic performance, strengthens muscles and is one of the best ways to prevent injuries from occurring. Stretching is one of the most important parts of your conditioning routine, specifically holding the stretch for 30 seconds and relaxing between each exercise set. It’s also recommended, and highly important, to stretch your muscle at its end range of motion.

For baseball strengthening exercises, you’ll want to focus on different areas of your body based on your position. Strengthening exercises are more effective when targeted specifically to the demands of your sport. For example, outfielders need a strong arm to throw to the infield, mid-fielders need to be able throw quickly and accurately and pitchers need strong muscular endurance to be able to throw for multiple innings. Some strengthening exercises that can help players are the sleeper stretch, posterior capsule stretch, single arm row, forearm pronation, wrist flexion and internal and external rotations. Figuring out which exercise is best for you can help maximize your performance and minimize baseball-related injuries.

2. Warm Up Before Your Game or Practice

A routine conditioning program is great for preventing injuries, but also don’t forget to warm up before every game or practice. Playing with cold muscles can put you at a greater risk for obtaining an injury. Try jumping jacks or a light jog to warm up your muscles, as well as incorporating a few stretches. When you’re stretching, focus on your back, hamstrings and shoulders, as tight muscles in these areas are more prone to injury. Get your team to have a group warm up before your game or practice, or warm up on your own to get your muscles ready to play.

3. Follow the Rules and Focus on Your Technique

When you’re not following the right technique, you’re at a greater risk of injury. For example, players should be developing skills that are age appropriate. Any player under age 10 should not be taught to slide. If 10 or older, the proper sliding technique must be provided and a player must practice the correct way before utilizing it during a game. You also must follow and be aware of the obstruction rule. The rule is the fielding player cannot obstruct the path of the runner. With this in mind, make sure you don’t get in the way of runner or block the base without possession of the ball, as it can be dangerous and lead to a collision or further injury.

If you’re a pitcher for your team, there are many techniques and guidelines to follow. This includes limiting the number and type of pitches thrown in order to avoid overuse. Depending on your age there are pitch count limits that coaches, parents and players should be aware of. For example, the daily max pitches for 15-16 year olds is 95 and for 19-22 year olds its 120. Following your daily max pitch number during games will help you prevent overuse injuries in the shoulder and elbow. You should also avoid pitching on consecutive days and on multiple teams with overlapping schedules in order to prevent this type of injury. But one of the most important prevention tips is to always seek professional help if your arm pain does not go away or comes back while you’re pitching, as you may not be using the correct technique or are pitching too much. Always speak up before your injury progresses.

4. Wear the Appropriate Equipment

Wearing the right equipment is extremely important during a baseball game. You should have on properly fitted cleats and always be wearing a helmet while you’re up to bat or on deck. If you’re a catcher, the position obviously comes with equipment requirements in order to play since you’re at higher risk of being hit by the ball. Therefore, in addition to the typical helmet, chest protector and leg guards, catchers should always have a throat guard and an athletic cup for added protection during every game. All of your equipment should also fit correctly for the most effective injury prevention.

5. Make Sure the Field is Safe

Before playing, inspect the field for any holes, divots, glass and other debris that could be unsafe. Many injuries occur while sliding into bases, so try to use a field with breakaway bases as well. A breakaway base is more stable than a traditional stationary base and will not detach during normal base running, which could significantly decrease sliding injuries.

Athletic Training Services Near You

If you’re looking for a way to prevent injuries during your baseball game – find athletic training services near you. Athletic training includes injury prevention, wellness protection, clinical evaluation and more. It can help you prevent injury and re-injury by educating you on the best practices to reduce your risk of injury and keep you performing at your best. If you are suffering from an injury and are in need of a certified athletic trainer, come to Impact Physical Therapy. Our athletic trainers’ one-on-one approach will help you remain injury free all season long. Schedule a free screening with our compassionate staff today!