Submitted by Jennifer Davies, special to MSBL
Baseball is conducted in fits and starts of activity, and that can be tremendously taxing on the human body. Injury is disproportionately high in the sport, with Forbes finding that 507 players at on the disabled list compared to just 476 for the ultra-physical NFL. Looking into how injuries occur and taking steps to prevent them is big business and will ultimately help players to keep enjoying themselves on the field for longer.
Fundamental procedure – staying hydrated
Hydration is the first and most crucial step to maintaining your physical performance. All sports require good hydration, but baseball, with its sudden transitions from little to high intensity activity, is particularly intensive on hydration and its effect on muscles coming from a standing start. Specifically, water, potassium, and other salts like keto electrolytes will provide your muscles with the balancing act they need to perform at a high level and not become injured. As NPR note, such drinks can also provide useful energy boosts when taken at key times.
Preparing the body properly
Every sport has injuries more common than others, and baseball is no different. In baseball, the most common injuries affect the most common motions, with the pitching-related ulnar collaterial ligament injury widespread at all ages of the sport. The key here is understanding which parts of the body will be under most pressure and preparing accordingly. For instance, Top Velocity recommend developing your forearm mass with your pitching arm to strengthen your muscles in that area, and adjusting your pitch angle to reduce strain on the ligament.
Looking to the future
What if you could use data to prevent injuries long before they flare up? This is the approach taken by many MLB teams, who have lost $7bn in wages to the disability list over the past 15 years. Using big data and comparing it to existing sets and trying to find patterns between injuries and data is producing promising results. This can be conducted by players on an individual level, using subjective measures of post-match soreness, and comparing it to performance and measured vital signs like the heartbeat and oxygen levels at the interval.
Ultimately, it may be that injuries can be completely predicted one day in the future. Even then, it’s likely the preparations needed to avoid injury will be exercises and nutrition similar to what is used today. Like all success in sport, staying injury free is a case of self discipline and hydration.