It's becoming the point of the high school baseball season when young arms are starting to get sore. While some coaches preach the difference between playing through pain and playing through injury, they could be worsening problems for players and setting them up for serious arm damage in the future.
Lars Jonassen, head baseball coach at Maine's Erskine Academy, told the Kennebec Journal that a handful of the players on his team have complained about arm soreness this season. He told the publication that he actually excluded infield practice from practice twice last week to give tired arms a break. Athletic trainers have told Jonassen that the only thing he can do is let athletes with sore arms rest, but he said that he disagrees.
"The inception of athletic trainers has been fantastic," he explained to the news source. "It's also provided a crutch for kids. All pain isn't bad. I remember having a sore arm. We just pitched through it."
While there is far more that players can do to treat a sore arm than just rest, coaches would be very ill-advised to simply require them to play with the pain. Soreness is caused by inflammation in the muscles, so after games, players should always apply a cold pack to their arms. Additionally, players should continually stretch and keep their arms warm during games so they stay loose and don't strain or tear a tight muscle.
Prevention is the best way to avoid arm soreness. Players should adequately stretch their arms before games with both traditional exercises and resistance bands. During the offseason, training with weighted baseballs can help build arm strength and prevent soreness in the future.
Also, coaches shouldn't neglect the importance of team hydration. Muscles need water to stay strong, and if players aren't properly hydrated, they become very susceptible to injury.
Ice therapy after practice and games is also important, particularly for pitchers. This can significantly reduce inflammation in the shoulder and elbow and help speed the recovery time.
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