The Monday Memo
April 2, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
‘Tis the season for green grass, dusty diamonds, and America’s pastime… Baseball! Unfortunately, that also means there are a lot of baseball related injuries ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to prevent as many as injuries as possible. Today we will talk about some common baseball injuries (mostly in pitchers) and some ways to reduce the risk of getting hurt this season.
Dr. Christopher Dodson, is a board-certified Sports Medicine surgeon who works with all major Philadelphia sports, and is also a consultant for the LA Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He wrote a short piece last year regarding high rate baseball injuries in pitchers, and these are the several that made the list:
- Muscle Strain – Shockingly, some of the most common muscle strains for pitchers that finds dozens of MLB players on the bench every year are found in their abdominal muscles, specifically the obliques. The forces needed to stabilize or rotate their bodies in such a repetitive fashion can lead to severe strains.
- Labral Tear – This injury is when the fibrocartilaginous ring in the glenohumeral joint becomes torn. This can lead to a feeling of “catching” in the shoulder and instability, and is one of the more common shoulder injuries in baseball players.
- Rotator Cuff Injury – The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor), and can become compromised with repetitive overhead motions. The nature of pitching requires this very movement and loading often leading to damage to one of these muscles, sometimes multiple muscles.
- Shoulder Instability – This is what Dr. Dodson, refers to as “dead arm.” Due to instability related to fatigue of the shoulder, the muscles used in throwing can become strained with overuse leading to this sensation. With more severe instability, athletes can be at higher risk for subluxation and dislocation.
- UCL sprain of the Elbow – If you have heard of “Tommy John,” surgery then you have witnessed this injury in an athlete. This is damaging of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) that can be due to impact, or more often overuse of the ligament during something like a throwing motion. The pain is usually on the inner side of the elbow and can result in a feeling of instability.
- Throwers’ Elbow – Also known as, “medial epicondylitis,” this is defined as pain in the inner side of the elbow with overuse. This can often occur in pitchers who throw too hard or with incorrect form.
UPMC Sports Medicine reports that about 288,000 baseball related injuries occur each year. It is important to take measures while playing to reduce your risk of injury and increase your performance. Some recommendations from UPMC include:
- Warm up properly before throwing
- Participate in a pre-season and in-season baseball strength and conditioning program
- Avoid year-round playing to ensure proper recovery of overused muscles
- Promote communication between athletes and their parents and coaches about playing through pain and reporting the presence of pain
Finally, here is some info from UPMC Sports Medicine for reducing risk of injury in Little League baseball pitchers:
-Jim Tersak, SPT, CSCS