As you may have read in last issue’s “Get In Motion” Dr. Hawkins and I traveled to Tampa, Fl for the 29th annual American Sports Medicine Institute, Injuries In Baseball course. Surgeons, physical therapists, and Major League Baseball athletic training coaches from literally across the world presented the latest research and techniques on preventing and treating injuries in the pitcher’s elbow and shoulder. I would like to give readers some of the latest insight on preventing these injuries. There were three functional highlights that must be addressed about a pitcher to lessen the likelihood of injury: Shoulder blade, rotator cuff, and core stability, total shoulder rotational range of motion, and regulation of pitch count.
The rotator cuff’s job is to rotate the shoulder but even more importantly these muscles should put a stabilizing force on the arm as it rotates. Core stability and shoulder blade stability are commonly overlooked components of a pitcher’s training program. Skipping this training is like building a house on a soft foundation. Pitchers generate enough force from their feet to their fingers to throw baseballs in upwards of 90 MPH. If the core and shoulder blade do not have the ability to stiffen properly during arm acceleration there will be an energy leak. Force will be imparted to the shoulder, not the entire body and loss of speed and/or injury will occur.
Total shoulder rotational range of motion (TRM) is calculated by measuring the total degrees of internal and external rotation at the shoulder joint. The shoulder blade must be stabilized during this measurement. According to Wilk, Macrina, Fleisig: AJSM ’10, pitchers with a lack of TRM greater than 5 degrees especially when the loss is internal rotation were 3.5x more likely to end up on the Disabled List during the season.
When a young pitcher’s talent is discovered please remember the importance of preventing injuries. Don’t over utilize them because of their talent. Pitch counts in games AND practices should be regulated according to Little League Baseball’s program. And if the talent is there, have a functional examination performed by a qualified physician. To learn more about injury prevention feel free to call In Motion Spine & Joint Center or visit WWW.IMSJC.COM.