Hamstrings and Oblique Pulls in Baseball
I am amazed and astounded at the number of hamstring pulls and oblique pulls in baseball. I do not have any first hand knowledge of specific situations, but I am quite aware of the training culture in this sport. I have lived this day to day and seen what can and cannot be and what should and should not be done. It is beyond belief to see players miss months with a hamstring pull. That is appalling and alarming. There is either gross negligence, incompetence or a completely flawed rehab and training methodology. I suspect a combination of the three. Based on my experiences in Track & Field I would expect an athlete to miss three weeks on the outside. Oblique strains are a different story, they take a long time to heal. Those muscles once injured basically never rest because they are involved in breathing and other everyday activities that we are hardly aware of.
Here are some reasons why I think there is the number of hamstring pulls in baseball and my opinions on why the rehab is taking so long:
Players do not sprint enough. They only go all out during the games. They save themselves.
When they do run they only sprint straight ahead, they do not run curves and arcs. The hamstrings are under greatest stress coming out of turn (rounding a base).
Lack of understanding of hamstring function.
Lack of understanding of the mechanism of injury - hamstring pulls are deceleration injuries.
Improper strength training - use of hamstring curls and strengthening exercises that focus on the hamstring in non-functional positions.
Over reliance on machines for “running.” – Elliptical machines that lock you into a limited range, stair steppers that do the same, and high-speed treadmills that foster incorrect running mechanics.
Lack of understanding of correct sprint mechanics, as they are adapted to the sport.
Once they are injured rehab must emphasize getting their feet back on the ground string with walking and extensive work on the non-involved leg. They should be jogging in two days! I know with the Mets there was over reliance on a new therapy pool, the players lost coordination and did get a “feel” for the ground. Therapy pools are OK, but should not be the main focus.
In regard to the oblique strains, here is my two cents worth:
Excessive amounts of non-functional “Ab” work done in seated, prone or supine positions.
Over emphasis on flexion/extension movements, not enough rotation in training.
When medicine ball is done, there is too much emphasis on the throw, not enough on the catch.
Once again a lack of understanding of the mechanism of injury, it is a deceleration injury. It occurs not accelerating the bat or the ball, but in deceleration.I am not very optimistic that we will see these injuries controlled in the near future. Baseball is a monkey see monkey do sport, way too many fads in training, not enough good training methodology. The front office administrative types rely way too much on Doctors who have no understanding of function or training. Too many egos, not enough teamwork. The result is that there are millions of dollars of players on the sideline.