The Training Table: How to Prevent, Deal With & Treat Injuries

January 11, 2012
by Justin

Welcome back to the Frozen Rope. The Frozen Rope is a NCAA college softball blog that’s dedicated to the you, the aspiring college athlete. The first week’s blog was all about the new softball bats, while volume two, was about the top girl’s college softball programs in Division I. The second week’s article was a continuation of that story, with an emphasis on two smaller college softball programs. In volume three and volume five we got into some great college softball drills, with a little help from Softball Performance, and volume four was all about tips for the college bound athlete’s transition. This week is all about the reality of injuries. In high school, I was fortunate to not have any major injuries in any sport I played. I actually didn’t have any major injuries until my freshman year of college in the middle of football season. Despite the difference in my collegiate sport to your sport of softball, my most significant injuries are common enough to occur in any area of athletics. Here are some tips on how I prevented, dealt with and treated my injuries.

 

The Training Table: Prevention

Injury prevention practices were hands down my saving grace. I always warmed up and I maintained my flexibility by stretching year around. Personally, my doctor told me that when I tore my meniscus, that if I hadn’t had been so flexible I would have tore my ACL. A great way to avoid injury is to wear compression items like knee and elbow sleeves. Getting your ankles taped is also an effective way to protect yourself from common ankles sprains to extreme injuries like a ruptured Achilles tendon. Another great way to prevent injuries is addressing and treating common areas that usually get sore or injured during softball season, before they happen. Those important areas include the shoulder/rotator cuff, the core/groin, and knees/lower legs. In every case, ice is your friend; the one thing that is often forgotten is the heating aspect of injury prevention. Ice reduces inflammation, and if you can stand it, 20 minutes in an ice bath can go a long way in helping your whole body recover from everything from a game to preseason conditioning. Heat is also imperative in maintaining flexion and reducing the creation of scar tissue. Both should be done for about 20 minutes right after each phase, and can be very effective at helping you prevent some major injuries.

 

The Training Table: Dealing With Minor and Nagging Injuries

There are few things more annoying in this world than a lingering injury that doesn’t want to properly heal, or keeps getting reinjured. Before I hurt my knee I had a hip flexor issue that really took a step from me. What was really crazy is that my hip flexor injury ended up being the cause of me hyper-extending my elbow my freshman year of college. I played through the pain of the hip flexor initially, but because my speed was compromised as a closed in on this runningback, I arm tackled him. I thought I broke my arm (at the elbow) at first, but I was able to complete the game because of my adrenaline flow. The next day I paid for it; I had to crawl to the bathroom from my dorm room because outside of my usual pain, I played every defensive play. The crawl wasn’t as bad as the fact that the restroom was for the whole floor, and I lived in the football dorms. Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest hour. Softball players also have extreme elbow issues, and I’m sure your shoulder has felt at its worst the day after a long game. The best way to deal with these nicks and bruises is to ice, heat and rest. A hard brace or compression wear is also effective, and can keep you on the field playing at about 90%.

 

The Training Table: Treating Major Injuries

The worst-case scenario is actually have to take time out and miss games because an injury. I missed the second half of my first season and ended up walking away from my sport, because of my body not being able to deal with the rigor of football and college academics. If you have to deal with this unfortunate issue, be sure to understand everything about your injury. If you have an ACL tear, you need to rehabilitate every ligament in that knee especially the patella tendon, which usually is weakened from inactivity. Time is your ultimate ally if you ever have a major injury, with rehabilitation of the whole area effected coming in a close second. The most difficult issue I had, was dealing with was the psychological damage incurred during the healing process. It is extremely difficult just to trust your injured area to perform at your peak, like before you first were injured. Both rehabilitation and psychological strength have to be considered and almost perfected before you can ever get back to playing like yourself. If you can get both aspects together, you can make your comeback and be even better than you were before.

 

That’s all for our journey this week. Be sure to continue to hit the cages and practice, because outside of great academics, there is nothing that takes the place of great technique and hours of hard work. Check back next week for another installment. Until the next time, this is your favorite college softball blog, The Frozen Rope, and this is Yorick Hempstead signing off.

 

 

Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for ScoutMe. He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle.

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