Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Reduce Wrist Injuries in Baseball?

You may be more susceptible to wrist problems if you frequently throw split-finger, or splitter, pitches. The risk of injury increases if you don't adequately warm up, stretch or strength train your wrists. If you experience any sort of pain during or after pitching, stop immediately and seek medical treatment. Ignoring wrist pain may lead to permanent damage if you do not take care of it.
The Splitter
As a pitcher, your primary goal is to throw the ball into the strike zone to areas that are difficult for the batter to hit. Split-finger pitches are similar to a fastball but drop down toward the ground at the tail end of the pitch. The split-finger pitch is executed by resting the ball on the thumb and ring finger. The pitcher places his pointer finger on one side of the ball and middle finger on the opposite side. The name "split-finger" comes from the way the ball forces a split between the pointer and middle fingers. Mastering this type of pitch gives the pitcher a competitive edge, making his pitches difficult to hit.
Your wrist is a complex series of bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves. The awkward grip of the split-finger pitch can put an added strain on your wrist. Additionally, the splitter is difficult to control and you may wind up throwing a larger number of pitches during an inning, explains Bill Thurston, head baseball coach at Amherst College. Throwing more pitches can injure your wrist or make a current injury even worse.
Wrist Injuries
You may experience several types of wrist injuries from splitters. Throwing more balls during an inning can lead to torn wrist ligaments, which are bands of fibrous tissue that connect the wrist bones to one another. Carpal tunnel syndrome leads to swelling, tingling and cramping in your wrist. This injury occurs when the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway of bones, nerves and ligaments, gets compressed. Tendinitis, which causes inflammation, occurs when tendons become inflamed from overuse. Tendons attach muscles to bones. Doing certain exercises can help strengthen muscles in your wrist. You may be less likely to suffer from an injury if you keep your wrist muscles strong.
Sitting on an exercise ball or a chair, put your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Place a circular piece of stretchable tubing under your right foot. Hold the other end of the tubing in your right hand and rest your forearm on your leg. Your palm should be facing the ceiling. Slowly raise your hand so that your wrist bends, keeping your arm on your leg so your wrist is doing the work. You should feel some slight tension as you bend your wrist. Complete two to three sets of 10 repetitions and repeat on the other wrist. As you build up wrist strength, you can use different types of tubing that provide greater resistance.
If you experience any pain associated with split-finger pitching, getting proper treatment can help prevent permanent damage. One of the most common treatments is resting your wrist, allowing torn ligaments or swollen tendons to heal. Icing the area helps reduce swelling and minimize pain. Your physician may prescribe medications and anti-inflammatory medications to help with your symptoms. Rehabilitation with a physical therapist helps your injury heal, as well as improving your wrist strength. In more severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery to repair damaged tissue or open up the carpal tunnel area.

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