CAUSE IT’S ONE! TWO! THREE injuries…you’re out.
Every year, thousands of baseball and softball players suffer from shoulder and elbow related injuries. These injuries are now more likely to happen to younger athletes between the ages of 7 and 18. With overuse shoulder and elbow injuries steadily rising, parents are worried about the health and safety of their children.
Young baseball and softball pitchers are enduring the worst overuse shoulder and elbow pain. Pitchers are at a higher risk of damaging their UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). The UCL is responsible for stabilizing the elbow when pitching, and is the most common ligament to suffer when pitchers throw too much or too hard.
The issue may be intimidating, but it’s no reason to take your kids, or yourself, off the field. There are a number of different ways for young athletes to prevent shoulder and elbow injuries:
- Begin practice with lighter throws, stretching, and running to help your body warm up properly.
- Try out different positions besides pitcher to help alleviate the strain on your joints.
- Stop pitching beyond your age. If you’re 8 years old, your maximum pitches per game should 50. Don’t be throwing 80.
- Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons.
- Don’t pitch consecutive days in a row.
- Emphasize control, accuracy, and proper techniques in young pitchers.
- If you have pain, stop pitching and schedule a consultation.
If overuse shoulder and elbow injuries do occur, the first and best thing to do is to rest. Use ice and anti-inflammatories to help with soreness and inflammation. If the pain endures, contact your doctor immediately. Loss of muscle, tone, flexibility and endurance is typical if not treated.