Via the Daily News -
Hamstring pulls and ACL tears suddenly seem so old-fashioned, so outdated, as irrelevant as carbon paper, eight-track tapes and Friendster. Nearly one month into the 2011 season, oblique muscle injuries have emerged as Major League Baseball’s trendiest ailment.
More than a dozen players have been sidelined with oblique injuries this season. Yankee star Alex Rodriguez sat out two games last week with a minor oblique injury. His teammate, Curtis Granderson, injured his oblique during spring training. Jason Bay finally returned to the Mets on Thursday after spending the first three weeks of the season on the disabled list with a strained left rib cage. That same day Angel Pagan left the Mets’ game against Houston in the fifth inning after tweaking his oblique while facing Astros pitcher J.A. Happ – who has also missed part of this season with an oblique problem.
“It’s never a career-ending injury but it can be really debilitating,” says former professional baseball player Dan Rootenberg, president of New York-based SPEAR Physical Therapy. “You can’t sneeze, cough, laugh or move without extreme pain.”
So why the sudden surge in injuries to obliques, those broad, flat muscles that attach the rib cage and the pelvis? Why are so many ballplayers sitting out with sharp pains in their sides?
Sports physician Lewis Maharam, the former president of the New York chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, says the rise in oblique injuries may be a byproduct of the drug-testing program that MLB and the Players Association first agreed to implement in 2002.
“My theory is that drug testing in Major League Baseball is working and people are getting away from using illegal steroids,” Maharam says. “They are moving to legal products such as creatine, but they don’t know how to use it in conjunction with their workouts.”
Creatine, a legal dietary supplement that is not banned by MLB, NFL, NBA or NCAA, is an amino acid that boosts lean muscle mass and strength. Studies show it’s effective for sports like baseball, tennis and golf, activities that require intense but brief bursts of energy, and not so effective for sports that require endurance, such as running and soccer.
Creatine, according to Maharam, adds water molecules to muscle fibers, which causes the fibers to separate.
“This makes for easier muscle tears and slows the repair process, leaving them on injured reserve longer,” Maharam says. “It is because of these side effects that professionals for a long time went away from creatine when they could use anabolics and HGH. Now that testing is stronger, I have seen a trend back toward the safer creatine.”
Hey, if it’s legal, there’s nothing that can be done about it. And, if players are using it, then they should make sure that they drink lots of water with it.