Every spring, many people look forward to the crack of the ball hitting the bat and the sound of the fans cheering on their teams at the baseball diamond. Locally, Little league coaches are ramping up for the warmer weather, preparing their game schedules and getting themselves educated about the new rules and regulations of the game. Practices for the little leaguers have begun and the players are anxious to get back to throwing the rawhide in their first games of the season!
In the sheer excitement of the season, safety and prevention of injuries is not usually at the forefront. However, injury prevention techniques are essential for players who want to continue running the bases until the last game of the season.
Common injuries we see among baseball players revolve around the shoulder ,elbow, knee and ankle. Many problems stem from throwing too much or too soon. In fact, 45% of pitchers under the age of 12, complain of chronic arm pain, called medial epicondyle apophysitis, also known as “pitchers elbow”. In this scenario, pain and swelling inside the elbow can limit range of motion. Common causes include overuse of the arm and the forceful and repetitive nature of throwing. In particular, the act of pitching places intense stress on the bones, growth plates and ligaments. To complicate the issue, in the case of the young and adolescent player, these structures are not fully developed yet. Pitchers ages 9 to 14 are at greater risk of injury from over-use.
Here are some tips to help coaches and parents prevent injury in younger pitchers:
- PITCH COUNT: It is essential to monitor the total number of pitches per game. Coaches must watch for fatigue and other signs that the pitcher may be having pain, such as pitch speed and accuracy.
- FANCY PITCHES: Young pitchers, who can throw an accurate curve or breaking ball, tend to be hard to find. Therefore, once identified, someone with this ability will quickly become a popular choice in the games. However, these types of pitches tend to place greater stress on the elbow, and therefore, should not be thrown prior to age 14. For pitchers ages 15 and older, these specialty pitches should be closely monitored to ensure they are not overused.
- MECHANICS: Proper throwing technique helps avoid undue stresses and injury. Remember to keep the elbow even with the shoulder during the wind up and initiation of the pitch. This will help the kids avoid throwing side-arm. Sometimes young pitchers need frequent reminders about proper technique.
If you do sustain an injury, or are having pain and don’t want it to get worse, we can help! Physical therapists are the experts of the musculoskeletal system. Utilizing a personalized, one-on-one approach, we can help restore mobility and strength as well as eliminate the pain. In addition, we always spend the time to educate our patients and instruct the coaches and parents, as needed, in the proper strengthening techniques for prevention of a future recurrence.
As a Direct Access provider, patients do not need a referral to access physical therapy and we often have same day or next day appointments available. Save time and money by calling us first. As a locally owned and operated clinic, we care about our community and strive to exceed our patient’s expectations every day!