Youth Baseball Injuries
More than 30 million children and teenagers participate in organized sports today. About 288,000 of those are injured each year playing baseball.
Changes in recent trends tend to drive young athletes to focus on one sport — playing year round and participating on multiple teams.
Without taking time off or changing sports during the year, baseball players commonly experience arm soreness and are likely to develop overuse injuries. If not properly managed, this can lead to more serious problems.
Common Baseball Injuries
Baseball players most often injure their shoulders or elbows.
Shoulder-related injuries range from tendonitis of the muscles that keep the joint (the rotator cuff) stable to cartilage tears within the joint itself.
Elbow problems include tendonitis of the muscles on top of or below the forearm and strains of the ligaments on the inside of the elbow.
Causes of Baseball Injuries
- Not enough rest periods
- Poor throwing mechanics
- Poor specific pitch technique
- Poor flexibility and range of motion
- Decreased rotator cuff or scapular (shoulder) strength
- Decreased wrist muscle strength and flexibility
- Decreased hamstring flexibility and strength
- Poor hip flexibility
- Poor core strength and stability
- Decreased hip muscle strength
Treating Overuse Injuries in Baseball
Overuse injuries in baseball usually respond to rest and a temporary halt to playing.
Reduce pain and swelling by:
- Icing the area
- Doing gentle stretches
- Using ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®, etc.)
Any athlete who has pain or soreness for more than 48 hours should seek medical attention.
In as little as 48 hours, weakness and imbalances can occur, leading to increased risk factors when the athlete returns to play.
The specialized team of experts from UPMC Sports Medicine’s Young Athlete Program can evaluate and, if necessary, treat an injury to prevent more serious problems.
After a period of rest, an athlete often needs physical therapy or rehabilitation to regain strength and flexibility in the affected area.
UPMC Sports Medicine can design a baseball-specific throwing, strengthening, and range-of-motion program to help the athlete return from injury, or improve form.
If surgery is needed, an athlete usually completes a rehabilitation program afterward and can return to playing baseball with medical clearance.
Preventing Baseball Injuries
To prevent injuries, baseball players should:
It's important for athletes to talk with parents and coaches instead of playing through any pain. Pain may be due to an underlying condition, and continuing to play could result in an injury.
If pain persists, or if a young athlete is playing year round without much rest, a consultation with a sports medicine specialist is recommended.
Throwing and Resting Guidelines
Little League Baseball offers age-based guidelines (see charts below) for the number of pitches per day and the length of rest periods. These are designed to ensure safety and help avoid overuse injuries in young baseball players.
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