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      Staying safe while playing baseball

      There's a reason why baseball has been called our national pastime for decades. It's as American as hot dogs and apple pie. It's been a summer tradition across the Heartland

      for generations. It's a great team sport, and it's fun, but is it safe? Dr. Justin Puckett from Complete family breaks it down for us.

      Baseball is one of the safest childhood sports: Injuries are few and usually self limited, and with some good oversight by parents and coaches, can usually be nearly eliminated.

      Eye injuries are most common: Kids have decreased depth perception increasing the risk. If they wear glasses, they should wear extra eye protection and consider a shield on the batting helmet.

      Over-use injuries: Occur from using the same muscle over and over again. Should do a variety of drills during practice to help eliminate the chance of injury. If a child complains of soreness, take some time off.

      Other musculoskeletal injuries: Limit sliding until technique developed. Wear appropriate fitting shoes. Swing bats only in supervised areas at the correct time. Avoid collisions with the ball, the bat, or another player.

      Question: Is there any equipment that helps to enhance safety?

      Answer: Any equipment should be sized to fit, and in good working order. Sliding pants can be worn under regular baseball pants. Batting gloves help protect the players hands and help prevent bat slippage and early

      release. Athletic supports (cups) should be worn by all infielders and pitches as the intensity of the game picks up

      Question: What else could parents do to help enhance overall safety during baseball season?

      Answer: Avoid dehydration by providing plenty of fluids before, during and after practices and games. Warm up by doing some gentle aerobic activity, gentle stretches of key areas after warm up complete. Practice, practice, practice. The more familiar your child is the less likely they are to get injured, and the more likely theyâ??ll help contribute for a win!

      Question: What about pitchers and their guidelines to follow to decrease chance of getting injured?

      Answer: Keep in mind that even major league pitchers have strict pitch counts to keep their arms healthy. Here are the pitch count limits recommended by U.S.A. Little League and the American Sports Medicine Institute:

      â??7-8 years old: 50 pitches a day or 75 pitches a week

      â??9-10 years old: 75 pitches a day or 100 pitches a week

      â??11-12 years old: 85 pitches a day or 115 pitches a week

      â??13-16 years old: 95 pitches a day

      â??17-18 years old: 105 pitches a day

      â??Pitchers under 14 should limit total pitches to less than 1,000 per season and 3,000 per year.

      â??All players should take at least 3 months off per year from overhead sports (i.e., sports

      that involve a lot of overhead arm movements like baseball or volleyball).

      â??If pitchers feel persistent pain in their throwing arm; they should not be allowed to pitch again until the pain goes away.

      Dr. Justin Puckett, DO

      Complete Family Medicine

      1611 S. Baltimore St.

      Kirksville, Mo. 63501