Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Play Ball! How to Prevent Baseball & Softball Injuries in Young Athletes


Submitted by ORA Orthopedics

This summer, thousands of Quad City area baseball and softball players
will take to the fields, representing their teams, winning trophies,
and, for some, dreaming of coveted college scholarships. Unfortunately,
careers and college dreams can be derailed by premature injuries from
throwing too hard, too much, too early, or with too little rest.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), a
recent study found that “53 percent of the parents/caregivers of youth
baseball pitchers are unaware of safe pitching practices designed to
prevent overuse injuries—common tears or damage, most often to the elbow
or shoulder—which can cause pain, lost play time, and, if not treated
appropriately, arthritis, deformity, and disability.”
“We are definitely seeing younger and younger players with these types
of injuries coming through our Sports Medicine Center,” says sports
medicine surgeon Dr. Ryan Dunlay of ORA Orthopedics. “There are
basically two types of baseball injuries we see: overuse injuries caused
by repetitive stress from activity like throwing and pitching and
injuries caused by sudden tears or trauma to the elbow or shoulder.”

According to the AAOS, between two and eight percent of youth pitchers
will suffer an overuse injury from throwing too hard, too often, too
young, and/or without appropriate rest once pain begins in the shoulder
or elbow. One recent study found approximately 38 percent of pitchers
will miss at least one game because of arm pain, with 34 percent
experiencing pain severe enough to warrant a physician’s visit.

“The first and most obvious treatment for these common overuse injuries
is to stop throwing or significantly decrease the frequency and
intensity of the throwing,” advises Dr. Dunlay. “Ice and
anti-inflammatory medication can also be helpful but should never be
used to help an athlete ‘throw through the pain.’” Dunlay says if pain
persists or recurs after appropriate rest, the player should be examined
by a sports medicine professional who understands the needs of the
throwing athlete.

“Elbow and shoulder injuries in young athletes are rising at an alarming
rate,” adds Dr. Dunlay. “Given the fact that all of these factors can
be modified, coaches and parents play a key role in preventing many of
the common injuries ORA treats in young throwers.”

For more information about ORA’s Sports Medicine Center of Excellence, call 563-322-0971.

Tips to Prevent Throwing Injuries:

  • Warm up by running and stretching gently before throwing.
  • Begin each practice with throwing technique, and then progress distance and velocity slowly.
  • Avoid pitching for multiple teams in the same season.
  • Never pitch with shoulder or elbow pain.
  • Emphasize proper  mechanics and control.