• Baseball Injury Prevention

    Baseball Injury Prevention

    It is now officially baseball season! Today we will review ways to minimize the risk of overuse injuries that can come with a long baseball season.

    Overuse injuries — especially those related to the UCL and shoulder—are preventable. Some tips to keep you in the game throughout your life include:

    • Warm up properly by stretching, running, and easy, gradual throwing
    • Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher
    • Concentrate on age-appropriate pitches
    • Adhere to pitch count guidelines, such as those established by Little League Baseball or MLB
    • Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons
    • Don’t pitch with elbow or shoulder pain, if the pain persists, see a doctor
    • Don’t pitch on consecutive days
    • Don’t play year-round
    • Never use a radar gun
    • Communicate regularly about how your arm is feeling and if there is pain
    • Emphasize control, accuracy, and good mechanics
    • Master the fastball first and the change-up second, before considering breaking pitches
    • Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about baseball injuries or baseball injury prevention strategies

    Pitching Guidelines According to the MLB:

    • Do not exceed ______ in a 12 month period:
      • 60 combined innings (Ages 8 & under)
      • 80 combined innings (Ages 9-12)
      • 100 combined innings (Ages 13-18)
    • Take at least 4 months off from throwing every year, with at least 2-3 of those months being continuous
    • Make sure to properly warm up before pitching
    • Set and follow pitch-count limits and required rest periods
    • Avoid throwing pitches other than fastballs and change-ups (Ages 8 & under -> 12)
    • Avoid playing for multiple teams at the same time
    • Avoid playing catcher while not pitching
    • Players should not pitch in multiple games on the same day
    • Play other sports during the course of the year
    • Monitor for other signs of fatigue
    • No pitcher shall appear in a game as a pitcher for three consecutive days, regardless of pitch counts
    • Once hitting the age of 19+:
      • Keep track of the amount of pitching throughout the course of the year. Although the safe yearly limit varies from pitcher to pitcher, it is important to remember that overuse injuries are the result of short-term and long-term overuse
      • Take at least 3 months off from competitive pitching every year, including at least 4 continuous weeks off from all overhead throwing

    Risk Factors:

    1. Pitching While Fatigued:

    Watch for signs of fatigue during each game, throughout the season, and over the whole year. The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) found that adolescent pitchers who undergo elbow or shoulder surgery are 36 times more likely to have routinely pitched with arm fatigue.

    2. Throwing Too Many Innings over the Course of the Year

    ASMI found that players who pitched more than 100 innings in at least one year were 3.5 times more likely to be injured than those who did not exceed 100 innings pitched. Every inning — whether it be during a game or showcase event — should count toward that threshold.
    3. Not Taking Enough Time off from Baseball Every Year

    ASMI also found that pitchers who competed more than 8 months per year were 5 times as likely to suffer an injury requiring surgery. Pitchers should refrain from throwing for at least 2-3 months per year and avoid competitive pitching for at least 4 months per year.

    4. Throwing Too Many Pitches and Not Getting Enough Rest

     Daily, weekly and annual overuse is the greatest risk to a youth pitcher’s health. Numerous studies have shown that pitchers who throw more pitches per game and those who do not adequately rest between appearances are at an elevated risk of injury. While medical research does not identify optimal pitch counts, pitch count programs have been shown to reduce the risk of shoulder injury in Little League Baseball by as much as 50% (Little League, 2011). The most important thing is to set limits for a pitcher and stick with them throughout the season.