by James Bicos, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon & Sports Medicine Specialist; voted Top 10 Sports Medicine Surgeons by Sports Illustrated for cartilage issues
(Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
The Major League Baseball regular season is over (go Tigers!) with teams playing a total of 2,432 games since April. That’s a lot of throwing, batting, running and sliding, as the MLB disabled lists can attest. The New York Times has kept a running calculation of which players are currently on each team’s disabled list and how much those players are costing their teams while recovering from injury. The cost of being injured, though a little more expensive than for you and me, isn’t that much different for the average person.
If you are a weekend warrior and you injure yourself, there’s the potential that you’ll miss work, be unable to perform everyday tasks or function normally. That means lost wages and a lower quality of life. That’s why prevention and treatment of common athletic injuries are crucial components in keeping you off the bench—and off the disabled list.
Low Back Pain: Matt Holliday (St. Louis Cardinals)
Those who’ve suffered with low back pain know how it can affect everything from work, sleep and even sitting at the dinner table enjoying a meal with the family. Low back pain is usually caused by overuse and ligament strain and the good news is that it usually gets better on its own after a few days or weeks. St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday was forced to take three games off for a bad back with his team fighting to make the playoffs in September. “I just think it tightens up every once in a while,” Cardinals Manager Matheny told MLB.com. “I think people with bad backs understand it just happens. It comes and goes.” Holliday already missed 10 games in July with a hamstring injury (more on this soon), costing his team roughly $1.1 million while he recuperated.
Treatment and prevention advice: Severe cases of low back pain require a trip to your doctor, but for nagging pain, rest and proper treatment helps the recovery process. Once the pain is gone, exercising your core is the best way to keep low back pain at bay. Working glutes, hamstrings and the abdominals will help stabilize the body and spinal mobility exercises will help keep your back healthy for activity.
Plantar Fascitis: Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels)
Even MLB superstars aren’t immune to plantar fasciitis, caused by repeated stress on your feet which causes pain in the tendon that runs along the arch of the foot. Some people, like Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols, battle through the pain until it becomes too intense to resume activity. In Pujols’ case, he ended his season early after dealing with foot pain for months, putting the $16 million player on the disabled list.
Treatment and prevention advice: Plantar fasciitis might seem like a minor ailment, but it can become a major pain if not treated properly. Proper footwear is one of the best preventative measures, as is a dedicated regime of stretching before and after activity. Once you start to have symptoms of plantar fasciitis, proper post-workout treatment and dialing back your activity could prevent a prolonged stint on the bench.