Did you know that softball is America’s most popular recreational pastime? It’s true! In fact, more than 40 million Americans of all ages and fitness levels participate in an organized softball league. And that number is higher amongst adults ages 34-54. If you’re one of the many adults who participates in a summer rec softball league, you likely understand the allure of the sport. Not only is it a great way to get outside and get active in the hot summer months, it’s also a great bonding experience for you and your friends. Who wouldn’t want to play in a league?
In addition, most recreation programs provide different levels of competitiveness and play for different types of players. There truly is something for everyone. Maybe you played baseball or softball in high school and you still love the competitiveness of the game. Or maybe you just really love the camaraderie of that Thursday night, beer-in-hand, co-ed softball league you participate in every summer. Regardless of how competitively you may or may not approach your rec softball league, the fact of the matter is that you are participating in an active sport and you should be treating it as such. After all, in a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, baseball and softball had the third highest rate of injuries treated in the emergency room among persons 34-54 years of age.
Despite the fact that you might look at your rec softball league as a fun pastime and way to hang out with your friends once a week in the summer, it is still a sport and all the risks of engaging in a sport are inherent in even summer rec leagues. That means if you don’t engage in proper muscle recovery during your season, you do run the risk of sustaining an injury that might just be minor but could be major enough to affect you long after the season is over. Let’s take a look at some of the risks inherent in rec league softball and how proper muscle recovery can help you avoid them.
What am I at risk of?
It’s estimated that about 71 percent of all softball injuries are due to sliding into a base. This motion tends to cause injuries such as joint sprains, breaks, or knee injuries. Those 29 percent of injuries that aren’t caused by sliding are most likely caused by collisions or lack of proper conditioning. Here are four of the most common softball injuries:
Sprained ankles can occur from quick stops and starts of base running but are most commonly the result of sliding into a base.
As with ankle sprains, knee injuries are most often caused by sliding into a base (often incorrectly) but can also be the cause of overuse and poor conditioning. Softball-related injury to a knee can range in severity and can be as severe as a tear in your ACL or meniscus.
Injuries to the Upper Leg
Shoulder injuries are most common in softball pitchers but can affect other players who are regularly throwing the ball. Shoulder injuries in softball players are often the cause of overuse and include tendonitis, rotator cuff strain and other overuse injuries.
How can I decrease risk of injury?
While you can’t really plan to avoid sliding and collision injuries, you can strengthen the muscles most commonly injured. Stronger muscles are able to withstand more stress. One of the most important components of strengthening your muscles is ensuring that they are given time to properly recover and build more muscle before they are put under additional stress. Thus the first reason that proper muscle recovery is so crucial to avoiding injuries both accidental and overuse.
The second way that proper muscle recovery helps decrease the risk of injury is by doing exactly what you think it would, helping your muscle recover. When you work your muscles, you’re causing damage to the muscle and creating a buildup of lactic acid. If you don’t allow the muscle to recover and expel the lactic acid build up, the muscle will not heal and build new muscle.
So, what are some of the ways you can engage in proper muscle recovery to keep your muscles healthy all season long? Here are some easy tips you can simply add to your overall regimen:
- ALWAYS stretch before and after a game or practice
- Implement an active recovery training day
- Sure you might just want to lie on the couch the day after a game but research indicates that it’s actually more beneficial to get up and moving a little bit. Consider doing some low-impact cardio such as walking around your neighborhood or going for a short swim in the local pool.
- Stay warm between innings
- Make sure to keep your muscles warm between innings by stretching and walking around the bullpen instead of just sitting watching your teammates take their turn batting.
- EXPERT TIP: Check out the products in our Recovery Line.
- Our recovery line products are specially formulated to strengthen areas of weakness and discomfort and aid in the recovery of muscle and joint stress and damage. We recommend starting with our most popular product: our recovery cream.
Muscle recovery isn’t just great for the health of your muscles; it’s also great for your overall health. Proper recovery has been shown to increase flexibility, happiness, energy and overall wellbeing. So not only are you doing your muscles right, you’re also doing the rest of your body right. And making sure you’re ready for next week’s game in the process!
Want some more great muscle recovery tips? Check out our FREE Day-to-Day Muscle Recovery Checklist.