Spring training season is officially here. While players prepare for the season, their chiropractors are working overtime to ensure they are healthy for the next 162 games.
A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training researched injury rates in men’s baseball using injuries reported through the NCAA injury surveillance system from 1988 to 2004. The results from examining nearly two decades of data revealed that:
- The rate of injuries during a game is three times higher than in practice
- Division I players were injured more frequently than Division II and III players
- Players were twice as likely to be injured during pre-season practice than in-season practices
- Game injury rates were higher during regular season than post-season
Although it is not considered a contact sport, baseball players do use their full bodies to hit, catch, and run. Of the injuries reported, 45% were in the upper body while 30% were in the lower extremities. The injuries were broken down as the following:
- 11% were upper leg strains
- 4% were ankle sprains
- 5% were shoulder strains
The most common practice injuries were shoulder sprains, followed closely by ankle sprains, and upper leg sprains.
When looking at who was injured, the batter, base runner, and pitcher accounted for nearly 60% of all game injuries. Players were most often injured when they came into contact with a bat, ball, or other equipment; however, 42% of the injuries were non-contact.
Beyond NCAA baseball injuries, another study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2011 found that major league players were injured at a rate of 3.61 per 1,000. Pitchers had a high rate of injury compared to other players. The majority of the injuries were in the upper extremities, accounting for 51% of all injuries. Unfortunately, no injury reporting system is in place for major league players, which makes it difficult to track injury statistics.
Many pro leagues have chiropractors on hand to immediately assess and help players who are injured at practice or during a game.
As the majority of baseball injuries are sprains and strains, sports chiropractors are often used to help treat these conditions. Chiropractors can assess and implement therapeutic treatment to help players restore range of motion. Additionally, chiropractic modalities can help improve strength, posture, and balance, which can help prevent future baseball injuries.