Spring has sprung and a new youth sports season is right around the corner. With that in mind, here are some tips for gearing up and warming up for spring athletics.

Getting ready for baseball/softball season

As you prepare for the first days of practice, it is helpful to warm up those arms that may not have been throwing all winter. A general upper body warmup is helpful, followed by easy tossing in the backyard. If you have more time, a progressive increase in harder throwing can be helpful, especially for positions requiring harder arm work (for example, pitchers and catchers). Ease into the season. It is important to remember to stick to pitch count restrictions for young pitchers to help avoid overuse injuries to the shoulder and elbow. And if discomfort in these areas are noted in a young pitcher, they should stop throwing and consult with a trainer or physician.

Getting ready for track/running season

Spring is an exciting time for our runners after a winter of covered sidewalks and trails. If your track athlete has not run much over the winter, nothing helps shake off the cobwebs better than hitting the road to run. But if the weather has kept you inside, doing treadmill running or other aerobic conditioning such as an elliptical machine or stationary bike can be helpful. Be sure to examine your running shoes along the usual wear points (outside edge of heel) in addition to checking the fit on your child's rapidly growing feet. If you buy new shoes, make sure you break them in before that first practice.

Preparing for lacrosse season

While some lacrosse athletes may have participated in winter clinics, many have not or are new to the sport. Lacrosse has a lot of equipment compared to some sports, so it is important to get a handle on the equipment needs of your player. Before each season, all equipment should be checked both for fit and for quality – especially the helmet – and new equipment sized and purchased prior to start of the season. It is also always a good idea to test out equipment in the backyard BEFORE the first practice to make sure everything is comfortable and works as it should -- this is also helpful for players who didn’t spend their winter with a lacrosse stick in hand. Pieces of equipment that are sometimes overlooked and usually need upgrading every season are mouthpieces and cleats.

April is National Youth Sports Safety Month. We wish all our young athletes a spring full of injury-free sports.

Brett D. Owens, MD

Dr. Brett Owens is a fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon, specializing in arthroscopic repair of sports-related injuries as well as complex knee and shoulder reconstructions. He is a professor of orthopaedic surgery at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University.