FanPost

Organizational Injury Report

The Organizational Injury Report (which I think is rather self-explanatory) is a project we'd like to see as a regular feature on Red Reporter, and something that I've been working on for some time now.  It just happens to be the case that the offseason is not a particularly interesting or active time for injury updates.  Basically, the timeframe for every injury with every player is "Spring Training 2012."  As such, I've been biding time collecting data on Reds players and their injuries, and looking into MLB-related injuries in general.  And the injury topic du jour in MLB seems to be the oblique injury.  Thanks to the Tigers for putting this on full display in the postseason this year, as it creates a decent jumping-off spot for the OIR.

The idea that oblique injuries are a recent occurrence in sports is rather widespread, though not really true.  It may be the case that the injury rates with obliques have gone up (slightly) in recent years, but it is also likely that similar injuries in the past were simply called by some other name.  Rib cage strains and intercostal strains are two examples (though intercostal muscles are actually distinct from the obliques). 

However, there may also be some merit to the idea of an increase in oblique injuries because of the increased strength and targeted strength training of modern athletes.  First, because upper- and lower-body large muscles are being trained for greater power, more strain is placed upon the core (i.e. torso) muscles in directing/redirecting explosive movements created by these larger muscles.  Secondly, and counter-intuitively, direct strength training of the oblique muscles themselves may not help prevent these injuries, and in fact may even contribute to them.  If the obliques are trained and strengthened to go through very specific movements (the movements of purely strength-training exercises), it may contribute to injuries that occur in the "real-life" movements the players make during competition. 

To use an example: obliques are often trained with crunches in various forms and side lifts.  However, when a baseball player uses his obliques during competition, very rarely do the obliques go through such a limited range of motion.  When batting, the obliques are needed to bridge the rotational movement that begins from the base (legs and hips) and is followed by the upper body (arms and hands).  Swinging at a pitch covers the entire range of motion of the obliques, since it ultimately depends on the obliques to stop the swing after follow-through so that the batter can begin running or step in for the next pitch.  So the player has strengthened his obliques with a limited range of motion, and now he's exerting them through the full range.  As the theory goes, he has only added more power to a motion for which he has not trained his obliques to compensate or perform, and as such his strength training may have actually contributed to the injury.

Getting back to the Reds; this season, both Chris Heisey and Dave Sappelt missed time with oblique injuries.  Sappelt was playing for Louisville and went on the DL June 6, and he was able to return to playing about July 10 (this info is quite difficult to pinpoint in the Minor Leagues).  Chris Heisey injured his oblique on August 3, but tried to play through the injury (bad idea with obliques) so he was placed on the DL August 6.  Dusty Baker stated that the Reds hoped to have Heisey back on the weekend of August 24, but that timeframe proved too optimistic.  Heisey was able to return on September 1.

This is the data I've collected on Reds oblique injuries.

It seems that with oblique strains, we can expect a timeframe of right around a month before the player is able to come back truly healthy.  And waiting for full health is particularly important for oblique injuries; 1) because compensating for the injury can disrupt a player's mechanics at best or lead to injuries resulting from compensation at worst and 2) because, you know, the oblique itself can't heal without the rest.

Over the offseason, updates will most likely be sporadic.  As Spring Training and the season starts back up, OIR will hopefully be updated on a regular basis.  Suggestions are not only encouraged, but requested.

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