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Geisinger expert offers tips to keep you in the game

Don’t let an injury keep you from the playing field

DANVILLE, Pa. – As youngsters look ahead to the spring sports season, preventing injuries should be a top priority.

“Baseball, softball and other throwing sports put a tremendous strain on the shoulder and elbow,” said orthopedic surgeon Daniel Feldmann, M.D., chief of Sports Medicine at Geisinger Medical Center. “That tension, paired with players throwing too hard, too often and too soon without rest causes many injuries before and during the season.”

Thousands of children are seen each year for sports injuries due to overuse, trauma injuries and lack of attention to proper injury prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all sports injuries are preventable.

“Shoulder problems develop more commonly in athletes from the repetitive, intensive training routines,” said Dr. Feldmann, warning that trying to “play through the pain” only aggravates the condition and may possibly cause more problems.

Dr. Feldmann offered the following tips:

  • Begin with a warm-up that includes stretching, running and easy throwing.
  • Avoid throwing with elbow or shoulder pain.
  • Emphasize control, accuracy and good mechanics.
  • Get rest.
  • Don’t throw too long on consecutive days or play year round.

If you’ve already pushed the limits and your shoulder feels sore or swollen, get rest, ice the affected area and talk to your physician. Rest will allow the symptoms to subside, yet can create loss of muscle bulk, tone, flexibility and endurance. A rehabilitation program may be needed to properly correct the problem.

“Treatment for shoulder pain is multi-faceted, but the best treatment is early recognition – pain is the most basic sign – and prevention of injury,” said Dr. Feldmann. “Early detection of an injury is an important responsibility of not only the player, but coaches and parents as well.”