Ryan Hanigan is a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. His playing time is shared with another catcher, but that doesn’t prevent the normal injuries that occur.
Recently, Ryan strained his back and it led to missing a game here and there. As he said at the time:
We’re doing what we can to let it calm down. It’s spasming. I could play if I had to. We’re letting it cool down because it hasn’t been getting better.
Back strains are something that are very touchy, because they can indicate a more serious issue or be a minor annoyance. It’s hard to tell when it happens, so Ryan’s strategy of letting it calm down is actually the right play.
What is a back strain? It really is an all encompassing term for anything related to the muscles of your back. A strain occurs when you pull the muscle past the normal shape or flexibility leading to a small tear or abrasion. The strain part means that the muscle is suffering from a very small injury. The problem is that some back strains are actually symptoms of a larger back problem.
How do you prevent back strains? Stretching helps, but if you have a history of back problems the real focus needs to be on strengthening your back. By strengthening your back you ensure that the muscle fibers are better able to handle the torque and stress placed upon it.
How do you treat back strains? I’ve found that a steam room or sauna is a great first step to fixing back strains. After the sauna or steam room I then take anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen. This helps the muscles during the light stretching. After this it really is all about time. If I am suffering from pain I’ll apply a capsaicin patch to the affected area.
Can you play baseball with a back strain? Yes, but is it is going to be painful and you risk at best delaying healing and a worst further injury.