Even though softball is not a contact sport, softball players are at risk for many injuries. Whether due to overuse or occurring suddenly, here are three common injuries that softball players are at the greatest risk of sustaining.
Ankle sprains account for 10 percent of softball injuries, both in practice and during games. These can occur from sliding into a base or during quick stops and starts while base running.
Most ankle sprains can be effectively treated using the RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). To help prevent ankle sprains, players should be taught the proper sliding technique.
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Tears
The ACL is a vital, yet fragile, part of the body for athletes. The ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee, preventing the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur and providing rotational support for the knee. ACL injuries in softball players often occur during quick stops and starts or from a sudden twisting motion.
In addition to a physical exam, most athletes will need to have imaging tests (such as X-rays or MRIs) to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for an ACL injury involves surgery, as a torn ACL will not heal without an operation. Surgery will rebuild the ACL with a tissue graft.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Tears
Due to overuse of the shoulders in softball—whether you’re a pitcher or first baseman —rotator cuff injuries are also common. The rotator cuff is often overworked and can become enflamed, resulting in tendinitis. Symptoms include pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. This pain may occur both during activity and at rest.
Your physician will measure the range of motion of your shoulder and check for other shoulder joint problems to determine the extent of your injury. X-rays and MRIs may also be used. Rotator cuff tendinitis can most often be treated with nonsurgical methods, including rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary if conservative measures are not effective.