Playing Baseball: Overuse Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Playing Baseball: Overuse Injuries and How to Avoid Them

With the days getting a little longer and temperatures a little warmer, can baseball season be far behind?
One of the best things about baseball is that the season is long and the games are plentiful. But for players, all that play time can mean the possibility of overuse or cumulative injury.
Overuse or cumulative injuries occur over time due to stress on the muscles, joints, and soft tissues that don’t have proper time for healing. The injuries may start as small, nagging aches or pains and can grow into debilitating injuries without treatment. Here are just a few of the potential overuse injuries that can result from playing – or practicing – baseball or softball.
Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder overuse injuries are very common, especially for pitchers. In softball, biceps injuries are more common than shoulder injuries, but the windmill pitching motion can be especially stressful on the body. In baseball, the overhead throwing position can also lead to shoulder problems:
● Glenohumeral arthritis is a type of post-traumatic arthritis that can occur when the shoulder joint undergoes repeated injuries.
● Shoulder instability is often caused by stretching the shoulder capsule due to overhead throwing and can lead to loosened joints and even dislocation.
● Shoulder tendinitis, bursitis, and impingement syndrome are all caused by shoulder inflammation and are common for young athletes who use overhead throwing.
Elbow Injuries
Elbow pain is also very common in these sports, especially damage to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) which stabilizes the elbow during pitching.
● Little League elbow (medial epicondylitis apophysitis) is an injury to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow, often caused by the action of the wrist flexors pulling on the inside of the elbow. It is frequently attributed to poor mechanics with throwing.
● Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is felt on the outside of the elbow and can make it difficult to lift or grasp objects.
● Ulnar collateral ligament injuries often affect pitchers who develop chronic injuries due to pitching action (primarily from overuse and poor mechanics).
Back Injuries
Catchers can especially be prone to back injury due to their crouched position and overhead throwing. Softball pitchers may also have back strain due to the windmill pitching action. Common conditions for these sports also include herniated disks, low back pain, and muscle strains.
As with any exercise regimen, you should talk to your doctor before getting started. If you’re concerned about how your body may respond to playing baseball or softball – or if you’re seeing the impact of overuse injuries already – you may want to visit an orthopaedic specialist.

Dr. Russell Ellis of DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine specializes in rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment of sports-related injuries. His goal is to provide ongoing medical treatment and guidance for athletes to recover quickly and fully from sports-related injuries and avoid surgical solutions whenever possible.
Raised in Morgan County, Dr. Ellis is a graduate of Danville High School and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, serving as Chief Resident his final year.
After residency, Dr. Ellis spent an additional year as a Sports Medicine Fellow at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham and trained under Dr. Tracy Ray and renowned sports medicine physician, Dr. James Andrews. He currently serves as team physician for several area high schools and Calhoun Community College. He has a current Clinical Faculty appointment for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and has served as an Oral Board examiner for the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Ellis and his wife have been blessed with three children and are glad to call the north Alabama area home.
Reach out to Dr. Ellis and the rest of the team of sports medicine pros at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine by calling 256-350-0362.


(256) 350-0362

1107 14th Ave SE
Decatur, AL 35601


(256) 286-0640

615 Mynatt St, SW | Ste B
Hartselle, AL 35640


(256) 350-3997

1107 14th Ave SE
Decatur, AL 35601


(256) 350-5707

1107 14th Ave SE
Decatur, AL 35601

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