Serious Adult Sports: Kickball and Whiffleball !!!??
The previous blogs I’ve posted on this website have focused on topics which impact most of the patients I see in my clinic directly or indirectly. ACL tears, shoulder dislocations, ankle sprains, knee arthritis, and similar topics are pertinent to most families at some point.
However, it was recently brought to my attention that I’ve overlooked a source of injuries among competitive adult athletes that has become amazingly popular over the past couple of years. Adults who seek to display their athletic prowess on the field of battle are drawn to these sports more and more each day, inevitably resulting in a source of athletic injuries that impacts the orthopaedic world. What are these sports? Basketball? Soccer? Wakeboarding? Crossfit? Zumba? MMA? No, no, and no – I’m referring to REAL combat sports – adult kickball and whiffleball, of course. I know what you’re thinking – these are kids’ sports … elementary school sports … baby sports – no offense to kids or babies intended. These are sports that we give up when we start playing real sports, and adults don’t play them. Well – we are wrong. Like video games and snapchat, adult kickball and whiffleball leagues are now very popular activities. There is a very nice adult whiffleball field that was recently built in the Ross Bridge area (see attached pics), and kickball leagues are very popular in Birmingham.
In an effort to definitively address this topic, I did an extensive literature search and pooled all the published articles on kickball and whiffleball injuries. In my profession there are tens of thousands of articles published on every medical topic imaginable each year. The total number of articles on this topic that I could find in the known medical literature was underwhelming – zero articles. Apparently medical professionals and academicians don’t recognize the seriousness of kickball and whiffleball to young adults. So I had to resort to a lower level of scientific proof to generate data – anecdotal testimony from experts in the field. I asked two athletes involved in these sports – one a former collegiate and professional baseball player and recently retired kickball aficionado, and one a former division 1 college football player and current whiffleball combatant. An Alabama fan and an Auburn fan, so I could get a balanced view of the topic.
According to my experts, the most common injuries seen are ACL tears, meniscus tears, and ankle sprains in kickball, and sore pitching elbows, hamstring strains, back strains from swinging (“home run back”), and ankle sprains in whiffleball. Previous blogs have dealt with all of these injuries on this website, and I urge you to refer to them if you need guidance on these topics. The lightweight ball and bat combined with the inevitable decline in neuromuscular coordination that occurs with age and desire to put the ball over the fence likely leads to the whiffleball injuries mentioned, which for some reason we never see in our kids! The leg injuries seen in adult kickball probably are due to the difficulty of kicking a lightweight ball, rounding the bases without tripping over the bags (or your feet), which are not anchored to the field, and proving that you can still kick a homerun (back in the day you were the man!). In general, stretching prior to play and using discernment when trying to score the winning run can help avoid these injuries and maximize your enjoyment. While you might think facial injuries from having an adult throw a kickball or whiffleball at you as hard as they can at close range would be common, apparently these are rare and usually minor in severity. Maybe the fear of payback is a limiting factor here. The more serious injuries not mentioned by my experts involve dehydration (avoid excess adult beverages) and the dreaded bruised ego from striking out – a great risk in either sport. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this. If you have sustained a serious whiffleball or kickball injury, we have an expert staff at Alabama Orthopaedic Center that will do our best to prolong your athletic career. Give us a call at 271-6503 or 802-6700, and Batter-Up!!