Mets fans are well aware of the massive amount of injuries the organization has endured in recent years. But what many aren’t aware of is there has been a growing epidemic throughout the sport for several years.
In 2009, the Mets set an MLB record when 1,482 total days were lost to injury. Since then seven teams have passed that number. In 2012 the San Diego Padres lost a total of 1,661 days to the disabled list, breaking the Mets record. In 2015, the Texas Rangers lost 1,701 total days to injury and last year, two teams shattered the Rangers record, when the Oakland Athletics lost 1,907 days to injury and the Los Angeles Dodgers set the new record at 1,964 days lost.
In 2012 and 2013 four teams lost over 1,000 total days to injury. That total has since skyrocketed to thirteen teams in each of the last two years. Currently, fourteen teams are on pace to lose over 1,000 days to injury.
Injuries are a common occurrence in all sports, injuries are going to happen, but why has MLB seen such a drastic increase?
Over the last several years many in the Mets fan base and in the media, have focused on the Mets training staff. However, is the criticism they have receive warranted? The answer is simply, No. While on the surface they may be the obvious target, there is a deeper issue.
Owners want to maximize revenue, while players want to maximize their earning ability, and in today’s game power sells. Baseball is no longer about small ball, stealing bases or the basic fundamentals, it’s about how far you hit the ball and how hard you throw it. Fans today want to see more homeruns and see pitchers throw 100 mph. That is what sells, that is where the money is. Thus, players want to hit balls farther and throw harder. Owners know that bulked up players lead to more injury risk but they also know that bulked up players bring in more revenue. If MLB really wants to fix this league wide epidemic they need to educate the players on how to properly train. They need to train to be a baseball player, not a bodybuilder.
Knowing that bulking up can increase injury risk and knowing that trainers are responsible for keeping athletes on specific training programs, wouldn’t that make the training staff the obvious culprit? Well, Yes and NO. To fix the problem we need to get to the root cause, and the major issue is not athletic trainers, but personal trainers.
There are two types of trainers, Personal trainers and Athletic trainers. An individual will hire a personal trainer, while sports organizations and medical professionals hire athletic trainers. Personal trainers work with people who want to improve their health, while an athletic trainer works with people who need to improve their health due to injury.
A personal trainer only needs a certification. Once a certification is earned they are not required to receive any further education. A personal trainers job is to help his client reach their personal goals, based on a proper training and nutrition program. If their client wants to bulk up, like a body builder, then the personal trainers job is to help them do that. Bulking up will increase athletic performance but increased muscle mass does increase injury risk (muscle tears and ligaments pulls). Proper stretching and nutrition can help reduce some risk but the risk of injury remains.
Different sports require different training programs. If you take a baseball player, basketball player and a marathon runner should they each follow the same program? Of course not. Many personal trainers are not educated on how to individualize specific training for specific needs, their education is very generalized. If the client wants to bulk up, a personal trainer will help them do that. If the client wants to lose weight, a personal trainer can help them do that. If a client wants to train for a specific sport, many personal trainers do not have the background to properly do that, which can greatly increase the risk of injury.
Unlike a personal trainer, an athletic trainer is hired by sports organizations and medical professionals to diagnose and treat injuries. They help rehab and monitor the injury until the athlete or individual has recovered. While a personal trainer only needs a certification, most organizations will not hire an athletic trainer unless they have a master’s degree. In addition to their employment, all athletic trainers must also be involved in a professional association such as the National Athletic Trainers’ Association or a similar association, throughout their career to stay up to date with new discoveries in medical science.
In any case, when working with any athlete there is no perfect program or perfect treatment. Similar injuries will affect each individual differently and can change drastically on a day to day basis. But an athletic trainer will be better equipped to handle injuries, since they have an extensive educational background compared to personal trainers. But If MLB seriously wants to put an end to this epidemic they have to take a more hands on approach to educate the players and their personal trainers on how to properly train an athlete.