Baseball is one of America’s favorite pastimes and with the thrill of stolen bases, home runs, and 100 mph pitches, how could it not be? All of that excitement comes with a price, however, often in the form of back pain due to the repetitive nature of the game. It’s common among Minor and Major League players, but even kids in high school are benched with game-missing injuries. So, how can we prevent this?
Spinal Specialist Dr. Haines was recently involved in the first comprehensive study investigating 272 Minor and Major League Baseball Players with complaints of back pain. No surprise, of those professional players, over a quarter of them either had a spinal fracture (spondylolysis) or spinal instability (spondylolisthesis). The underlying cause of these injuries stems from forceful extension of the lower back which is common with velocity throwing.
Good news! After a proper diagnosis, and a variety of treatment options including physical therapy, spinal injections, and surgery in some severe cases, most players returned to play with no restrictions within 2 months.
1. Maintain a strong core
A strong core (i.e. pelvis, hips, lower back, etc.) provides stability for our spine and allows the body to balance the jarring movements it experiences everyday. Do your core exercises!
2. Master proper throwing technique
Given baseball is primarily a throwing sport, it’s extremely important to understand the proper form when throwing the baseball. Over-rotation of the spine can lead to injury, including muscle tears, fractures, and instability.
3. Follow age-appropriate pitching and rest recommendations
Baseball skills should be developed according to age-specific recommendations. Talk to the coach about safe pitch counts and make sure your player is getting enough rest time
Dr. Colin Haines is a board certified spine surgeon and the Director of Research at Virginia Spine Institute. Dr. Haines performed the world’s first combined endoscopic and robot-guided spine surgery. His patient success has earned him a national feature on The Today Show and WebMD, and Top Doctor recognition in consecutive years. Learn more about Dr. Haines.