Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper healing time, according to www.sportsmedicine.about.com. Traumatic injuries occur from sudden force or impact.

In 29 years of playing softball, Brad Fanale has experienced his share of injuries, including a swollen knee, pulled hamstrings and muscle injuries.


Fanale has seen other softball players with traumas such as a twisted ankle, injured rotator cuff and pulled groin.

“You see a little of everything,” said Fanale, 47, who plays left field on the Track Shack/709 Liquors team in Springfield, Ill.

With softball season gearing up, overuse and traumatic injuries can be in store for players.

Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper healing time, according to www.sportsmedicine.about.com. Traumatic injuries occur from sudden force or impact.

“The various motor skills associated with softball, such as pitching, batting and fielding, place considerable perceptual and physical demands upon players,” according to the “Guide to Softball Injury Prevention.”

Injury prevention measures that athletic trainers offer young softball players also can give adult players something to think about before they take the field.

Deconditioning injuries

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests that high school softball athletes do conditioning training at least six weeks before the start of practice, according to “Guide to Softball Injury Prevention.”

Fanale said the off-season is a good time to start preparing for softball.

“I think in the off-season, if this is something that you’re really passionate about, you need to have some cardio training, and I think some strength training,” Fanale said. “You should be in the gym or you should be running. As you get older ... you should stretch a lot before and after the game.”

Nagging aches and pains seen at the beginning of the season result from what the “deconditioning of athletes” who are not ready physically for softball, said Devin Spears, lead athletic trainer for Memorial SportsCare in Springfield, Ill., which has athletic trainers assigned to eight high schools in the area.

“They go out there, and they have a very short window to prepare for the season. They have to do a lot of running. They have to do a lot of throwing,” said Spears, who added that at the beginning of the season, players can suffer muscle pulls and strains, hip flexor injuries and hamstring pulls.

Spears suggested that softball athletes try to get their outdoor legs back and do some throwing in preparation in late February and early March.

“You’ve got to start doing a little bit of throwing … . Go out in the backyard with your dad or with your friend or whatever and just start throwing a ball a little bit,” Spears said.

Traumatic injuries

Common traumatic injuries include ankle sprains.

“Somebody missteps on a bag or somebody slides hard into a bag and injures an ankle,” Spears said.

“Every sport anymore is a contact sport. You see collisions on the base paths. You see collisions in the outfields. You have individuals get struck either by thrown balls or batted balls, so those are all things that we deal with.”

The force of collisions that occur in softball can be just as big as those generated on the football field, Spears said.

“The difference is you’re not wearing any padding,” Spears said. “A lot of girls are starting to wear a face cage. A lot of times your pitchers will be wearing one of these or your third baseman will wear one of these.”

Wearing proper equipment to protect the body while on the playing field is one of the best ways to avoid softball injuries, according to www.Livestrong.com. Proper batting helmets with face guards can prevent head or face trauma from batted balls or mishandled bats. Mouth guards are recommended, and catchers should wear proper safety equipment.

“The key to injury prevention is not letting injury happen at all,” Spears said.

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To prevent injuries, adult athletes should take the following precautions:

* Don’t be a “weekend warrior,” packing a week’s worth of activity into a day or two. Maintain a moderate level of activity throughout the week.

* Learn to do your sport right. Using proper form can reduce your risk of “overuse” injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.

* Remember safety gear. Depending on the sport, this may mean knee or wrist pads or a helmet.

* Accept your body’ limits. You may not be able to perform at the same level you did 10 or 20 years ago. Modify activities as necessary.

* Increase your exercise level gradually.

* Strive for a total body workout of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Cross-training reduces injury while promoting total fitness.

Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases