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Play Ball, Safely

Protect yourself from injuries before you hit the field

SUNDAY, May 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Make sure a springtime injury doesn't tag you out of the entire baseball season.

With the arrival of warm weather, baseball players across the country are anxious to get back out on the field. However, don't be so eager that you forget to heed injury prevention rules.

More than 40 million Americans of all ages play in softball and baseball leagues. In 2000, more than 813,000 baseball and softball-related injuries were treated in hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and other medical facilities, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

The AAOS offers the following tips on how you can prevent baseball injuries:

  • Always warm up and stretch before your game or practice. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm-up exercises include jumping jacks, stationary cycling and running or walking in place for three to five minutes. Stretch slowly and gently, and hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Use equipment that fits you properly and wear it correctly.
  • Wear a batting helmet when you're at the plate, running the bases, or in the batting circle.
  • Facial protection devices reduce the risk of serious injury if you get hit in the face by the ball.
  • Wear the appropriate mitt for your position. Catchers should always wear a catcher's mitt.
  • Catchers should wear all the proper gear -- helmet, face mask, throat guard, long-model chest protector, protective supporter and shin guards.
  • Wear molded, cleated baseball shoes that fit properly.
  • Before games or practices, inspect the playing field for holes, glass and any other debris.
  • Get first aid training to deal with cuts, bruises and minor strains and sprains.
  • Be prepared for emergency situations and have a response plan to deal with serious injuries such as concussions, dislocations, elbow contusions and fractures.
  • If you're a pitcher, pay attention to your pitch count. The maximum is around 80 to 100 pitches in a game and 30 to 40 pitches in a practice.

More information

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions has more on baseball conditioning.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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