Play Ball... Play Safe

by Wesley K. Cox, M.D.

An Orthopedic Surgeon's guide to youth baseball injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation for Parents, Coaches, and Players.

Dr. Wesley K. Cox

Meet Dr. Wesley K. Cox

Wesley K. Cox M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the shoulder, elbow, and sports medicine. Dr. Cox received his Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology at Auburn University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He then completed medical school in Little Rock at UAMS where he was twice awarded the Washington County Medical Society scholarship and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society.

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Hydration

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of water in our diet. By not drinking as much as we should, we’re allowing a host of issues to potentially affect us. Overall, 2/3rds of the body is water. But did you know:?
– Muscle consists of 75% water
– Brain consists of 90% of water
– Bone consists of 22% of water
– Blood consists of 83% water

From a functional standpoint, water:
– Gets nutrients and oxygen into our cells
– Helps protect vital organs by helping them absorb nutrients more efficiently.
– Regulates body temperature
– Helps get rid of toxins
– Helps our metabolism

Lack of water leads to:
– Sluggishness
– Headaches
– Muscle cramping
– Kidney stones
– Constipation
We need to take in at least half of our body weight in ounces of water each day.

So, if I weigh 100 pounds, I need to take in at least 50 ounces of water. Fruit drinks, coffees, sodas and sports drinks do not count. You can drink the other stuff, too. But that doesn’t count toward the water intake.

Now if you’d like to take it further, drink at least 25% of that total within the first 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. That, mixed with a protein-laden breakfast does an amazing job of helping us stay even-keeled throughout the day.

Train To Train Phase of Long Term Athletic Development (Phase 4)

Train to Train-Phase 4
Ages: 12-16 Male/11-15 Female

Focus training on the overall athlete based on their physical, mental, emotional and cognitive ability. Typically, during this developmental age range, young players begin to play sports for competitive organizations. It is important that the training process maintain a “player centered” approach. This phase coincides with the growth spurt, which enters the window of trainability that focuses on stamina. It is important to maintain flexibility during this phase. Children will often lose this as they begin to focus more on sport specific activities. During the Train to Train period, many children will make the decision to pursue competitive athletics or move into the active for life phase. Active for life should focus on healthy lifestyles in the recreational realm of athletics.

Those that continue the pursuit of competitive athletics should begin mental training, more advanced technical instruction, and tactical instruction. I would strongly discourage the desire to specialize in one sport prior to the age of 15 years old due to the benefit from other sports. It is encouraged that parents be active participants in their child’s athletic life due to the injury risk that is prevalent at this age.

Pre Participation Routine-To Stretch Or Not To Stretch

What is the first thing that comes to mind when an athlete “pulls” a muscle?

The most common response is that the athlete should’ve stretched more or that they need more flexibility to prevent that injury. Multiple studies have shown this to be an incorrect assumption. There is actually a direct correlation between aerobic fitness and injury prevention. Aerobic fitness levels can actually aid in recovery as well. This is why baseball pitchers engage in some form of conditioning on the days that they are not throwing.

So the answer may be evident but let us pose the question of which is better: static stretching or dynamic stretching?

Both, but only with an aerobic component and activities that emphasize strengthening, jumping, or other similar activities. A proper warm-up should include, but not be limited to, some form of running activity laced with a dynamic stretching program and a short static stretch.

Whatever it is that you as a coach, parent, sports medicine professional, or athlete choose to do for a pre game routine, make sure it has scientific validation. Don’t just do something because that is the way it has always been done.