Spring is here! And with that comes all our favorite seasonal sports: baseball, tennis, lacrosse, track, and so many more! Athletes can’t wait to get out into the warmer weather and start playing. But, with temperature changes and lack of proper warm-ups, athletes can get ahead of themselves; that is what physical therapy is for. Spring sports injuries can be common and easily treatable; others are more severe and require special treatments.
As a physical therapist, embrace the time of spring sports season. You’ll be meeting a lot of young patients wanting to get back out on the field as soon as they can. It’s your job to know what injuries relate most to their field and how you can treat them. Here is your guide to understanding spring sports and the injuries that occur during.
Tops Spring Sports and Their Injuries
Baseball (and softball for all the ladies out there), can be one exciting sport (stick with me). There are so many different positions on the field and each is prone to different injuries. Pitchers usually suffer from elbow and shoulder injuries, while players in the field are susceptible to lower body injuries in the knee and ankle. And while they wear protective gear, catchers and batters’ helmets are nowhere near as padded as football helmets. This can mean harsh concussions. There is also the risk of any player taking a line drive to the chest which can cause an instant problem or issues that occur later.
Treatment: Treat baseball patients with elbow or shoulder injuries with wrist flection, extension, and rotation exercises. These can be done with no weights, light free weights, or resistance bands.
Through the grunting and swatting, tennis players do a lot of sprints and pivots. This often results in tennis elbow, tendonitis in the rotator cuff, and wrist strains. Forcefully swinging the racket can also contribute to these injuries.
Treatment: In addition to the R.I.C.E method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), light stretches and weighted exercises are the best way to treat rotator cuff injuries. Wrist, elbow, and neural stretches are the best way to treat tennis elbow and can be done with a partner.
The most common injuries associated with lacrosse are knee sprains and concussions. Male lacrosse players wear some padding, but because of rules that allow stick checks, they can often suffer severe concussions and contusions. This is also common in women’s lacrosse; while stick checks are illegal, accidents do happen. Also, due to the amount of fast running and quick turns, these athletes often suffer knee sprains or tears.
Treatment: To treat a knee injury, strengthen the muscles around the knee. This means helping your patient perform quadricep and hip flexor, and hamstring and hip extensors exercises.
It may not seem like it, (especially when they can be driven around), but golfers actually suffer their own injuries. While they sometimes face discomfort in the elbows and shoulder, their main injury location is the lower back. Due to their type of low and tense swing, a lower back injury can develop and stay with a golfer during their season.
Treatment: Come up with a proper stretching and lifting routine with your patient to treat their back pain. Teach them how to do proper stretches and exercises such as hamstrings and wall sits to relieve pain and strengthen muscles.
Track and Field
One of the most popular spring sports is track and field. And with this sport comes all the running you could imagine. But with running, comes injuries. Some of the most common injuries associated with track are shin splints and achilles tendinitis.
Treatment: While painful, shin splints can be easily treated with medical tape or other low-impact treatments. For achilles tendinitis, you and your patients can work on exercises to stretch the heel and calf muscles.