As the sports scene become more competitive, today’s young athletes are pushed more and more aggressively to succeed. Many athletes — and their parents — hold the dream of signing million-dollar contracts and playing in the big leagues.
With increased competition comes a higher risk of injury, especially seen with young baseball pitchers. Common ailments include tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow or medial epicondyle apopysitis (Little League elbow) in the throwing arm. These injuries often result in surgery and require physical therapy prior to returning to play. Studies have shown that college pitchers were much more prone to injury if they experienced a prior injury during youth play.
According to a recent five-year study of youth baseball players conducted by the University of North Carolina and Yale University, the primary cause of arm injuries in youth baseball is overuse, not throwing curveballs. Curveballs have commonly been blamed for injuries to elbows and shoulders, and numerous leagues have contemplated banning them.
Today’s guidelines often limit pitchers between the ages of 7 and 18 to 50-105 pitches per outing, depending on age, to keep from overuse. Other important factors to consider include allowing enough rest between games and having appropriate pitching mechanics to limit stress on the joints. Specific age-appropriate pitch counts (below) and rest time can be found through Little League baseball.
The therapists at ProActive Sports Rehab can help reduce the stress on players’ joints through stretching and strengthening of the shoulders, elbows and hips and analyzing throwing mechanics to make necessary changes. Physical therapy will help reduce the risk of injury, improve throwing mechanics and help ensure a longer playing career without injury.
ProActive Sports Rehab has offices at 4535 Southwestern Blvd. (Suites 805 and 806) in Hamburg and at 240 Red Tail (Suites 3 and 4) in Orchard Park, in the Sterling Medical Park. For more information on sports-related injuries and other health issues, please call the Hamburg office at 648-8700 or the Orchard Park office at 674-9600, or visit www.proactivesportsrehab.com. You can also follow ProActive Sports Rehab on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProActiveSportsRehab?fref=ts for frequent updates.
Pitch Count Limits
Age — Pitches allowed per outing
17-18 — 105
13-16 — 95
11-12 — 85
9-10 — 75
7-8 — 50