With COVID-19 restrictions easing, softball season will be kicking off soon. For all the softball players out there, this one’s for you. This blog explores the most common softball injuries that we hope you will NOT experience when you return to play.
Softball is a sport that is enjoyed across all age groups and is continuing to grow. The injuries sustained in softball are less related to contact and are more associated with technique, fatigue and falls.
To improve your technique, engage with your coach or the High Performance team at Softball NSW
1. Rotator cuff injuries
The 4 rotator cuff muscles are important for the movement and stabilisation of the shoulder. They are commonly injured in throwing movement and are found predominantly in pitchers. Due to the rigorous 360-degree motion of the arm and explosive windmill pitch, the rotator cuff muscles is placed under tremendous stress and can lead to overuse injuries, tears and impingement of the tendons.
Here are some common symptoms to look out for are:
- Decreased throwing velocity
- Pain around the shoulder which is worse with movement
- Feeling of weakness
- Pain with overhead activities
2. Ankle sprain, aka “the rolled ankle”
Ankle sprains are common in softball due to the fast-paced nature of the game. Whether you just hit the ball and are running to a base, changing directions or running after the ball on the field, an ankle sprain can occur at any time during movements which require rapid direction changes. The severity of the ankle sprain can vary depending on how you rolled your ankle.
Some common symptoms include:
- Bruising on the outside of your foot
- Pain and tenderness on the outside of your ankle
- Difficulty putting weight bearing
3. Finger sprain – also known as “proximal interphalangeal joint sprain”
The finger joint is surrounded by soft tissue structures such as ligaments which keeps everything together tightly. The finger joint can be sprained in softball especially while catching a ball due to the high velocity impact or simply just misjudging the catch.
Some key signs are:
- Pain and tenderness around the middle of the finger
- Pain after catching a ball
- Pain with bending the finger
A tendinopathy is an overuse injury and is commonly seen in the shoulders and elbows of pitchers. During the windmill pitch, the high forces passing through the shoulder and elbow and can be up to 98% of the body’s weight. Repeated exposure to this stress in a tendon can lead to an overload in the tendon and result in a tendinopathy. Rotator cuff tendinopathies are seen in the shoulder and medial epicondylalgia or “golfers’ elbow” is found in the elbows.
Symptoms of a rotator cuff tendinopathy:
- Pain with lifting
- Pain with arms overhead
Symptoms of a medial epicondyle tendinopathy:
- Pain on the inside of the elbow near the funny bone
- Tenderness on the tendon near the funny bone
- Elbow pain when you bend your wrist
5. Anterior cruciate ligament tears or sprains
The anterior cruciate ligament, commonly known as the “ACL” can be injured in softball. The ACL is a thick ligament which runs from the thigh bone to the shin bone and functions to provide stability to the knee. The ACL is commonly injured through a hyperextension injury, this means the knee straightens out passed 180 deg. Due to the fast running, rapid direction changes and start/stop motion of base running, the ACL can experience a hyperextension and can lead to a sprain or minor/major tear. While fielding, the knee can also go into hyperextension when you jump up to catch the ball and land on a hyperextended knee.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Diffuse swelling around the knee
- Audible pop occurs at time of injury and indicate a tear
- Pain around the knee
- Feeling of instability
What should you do?
We would say that prevention is always better than cure and being well prepared and strong before you hit the pitch at the beginning of the season. To assist you in preparing for your season our team have created a Pre-Season Conditioning Program to help you
prepare for the imminent return to sport? Go here https://youtu.be/PGblndRC2xs
If you are experiencing any pain or concerned about an injury that occurred during your softball match, come down to The Healthy Body Company at Penrith, Jordan Springs or Caringbah and one of our friendly physiotherapy staff will be happy to help.