It is early April, and that means Little League parades will abound on the streets of so many towns. The season of our glorious pastime is now upon us. Although the first games may be this week, many of these players have been throwing hard through the winter in the hopes of gaining an advantage on the mound. It is also the time of year when we begin to hear about major league pitchers having elbow injuries and Tommy John surgeries. There is sometimes just too much wear and tear on one’s throwing arm through the years creating a plethora of elbow injuries.
The most common elbow injury that requires surgery is to the ulnar collateral ligament on the inside of the elbow. This structure is subject to a large amount of mechanical strain during the throwing motion. Little League elbow is most typically used to describe pain in this area for the younger thrower. In an astonishing medical study just published for the start of the baseball season, Japanese researchers found 42 percent of 9-12 year old throwers had positive MRI’s for ulnar collateral ligament damage already.
A parent needs to take the lead in determining just how much throwing their child should be doing over the course of the year. A consideration to take time away from the sport for a few months is a good thing. In fact, many of the pitchers in the 2015 MLB draft were multi-sport athletes. To minimize your child’s risk of elbow injuries, you need to count number of throws per event for your thrower. An event is a game, practice or pitching lesson. Players on a number of teams at one time need to add up the cumulative number of throws made for the week.
Self-control for the player and parent plays a huge role in the management of the throwing arm. Just this weekend, a young pitcher was pulled from a start for the Dodgers while on his way to a possible no-hitter when he reached his pitch count. So when the coach says that he needs just one more inning from your son to get a win, say no if he has hit his limit. Throwing arms are a lot like the tires on your car……there is just so many miles of life that they have in them.
See the staff of coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists at SportsCare to help you manage the health and performance of your pitching arm through the season. Call us at 1-866-317-4724 for more information.