Exercise and education can curb Little League injuries

By Sheryl Kay • Published: June 16th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Call it a scientific triple grand slam: three important studies that were recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The topic? The rising incidence of throwing arm accidents on the Little League field.

Doctors have been especially concerned because when these injuries take place, many players are out for the season. Others need surgery or have such severe damage they are unable to continue playing baseball.

The first study looked at young baseball players who suffered from a tightness in the shoulder ligament caused by overuse of the throwing arm. Aware that if it’s not stretched after exertion the ligament becomes progressively tighter and more prone to soreness or injury, doctors prescribed a post-game stretching exercise that involves repetitive arm rotations at the shoulder joint. In follow-up visits, ninety-seven percent of the afflicted players consistently felt relief.

Elbow soreness was the driving force behind the second study, which evaluated one hundred and fifty players, thirty-eight of whom suffered elbow pain and limited motion. Doctors concluded that parents, players and especially coaches must become more aware of this fairly common syndrome, and that education about risk factors will help foster prompt diagnosis and treatment. That can help players avoid long-term damage to the elbow.

The third study presented also confirmed the rising incidence of elbow injuries and focused on more thorough education regarding youth baseball throwing guidelines. The experts’ advice? Strictly adhering to the recommendations for single game, weekly and seasonal pitch counts, recovery times and appropriate ages for learning a range of pitches will help keep young ball players hearing “Batter up!” …not “Batter out!”