Softball can improve your aerobic and muscular fitness, help you maintain a healthy weight and give you plenty of opportunities to make friends. But the repetitive motions of throwing a ball and swinging a bat can leave your shoulder aching, and if the pain is severe enough, it could undermine your ability to continue playing softball.
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Cranking Up the Tension
If you're out of shape at the beginning of the season, you might end up with minor injuries due to tense muscles. If the pain is mild to moderate and comes on slowly rather than suddenly, tense muscles are likely to blame. You might also develop delayed-onset muscle soreness in your shoulder a few hours after a heavy workout. Most experts think DOMS is caused by tiny tears in your muscles. These tears are what help build new muscle tissue, but they can cause pain for a couple of days.
Shoulder Abuse From Softball
If the pain is severe, you could have an injury rather than a simple case of muscle tension. Pitchers are susceptible to shoulder tendinitis, particularly if they overuse their shoulder muscles. It's also possible to sprain or strain the muscles in your shoulder with an especially hard throw, an overextension or even a fall. If the pain comes on suddenly after making an unusual movement, or if you hear a snap or feel burning, you might have sprained your shoulder.
Protecting Your Muscles
A proper warm-up prior to softball can help loosen up your muscles and reduce your risk of injuries. Practice gradually more challenging throws, and try rotating positions so that you don't end up with an overuse injury. Don't throw a ball if you're already in pain, and steer clear of year-round softball. Ask your coach about proper throwing techniques, and focus on adopting proper posture and good mechanics rather than throwing a softball as hard and as fast as possible.
Coping With Pain and Injuries
If you have an injury, focus on resting your shoulder, and avoid softball practice until the pain subsides. Ice, elevation and compression can also held reduce the symptoms of mild injuries, and massaging the affected area can help loosen up tense muscles. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation, though it won't fix the underlying injury. If the pain is severe or continues to get worse, though, you may need medical treatment or even physical therapy, so call your doctor.