SAN DIEGO, Calif. – July 7, 2003 – With the Little League World Series quickly approaching, (August 15-24, Williamsport, Pennsylvania), youth athletes and parents should be aware of the risks involved in repeated overhand throwing, especially pitching. It has been estimated that as many as 40% of all youth league pitchers may experience some type of arm injury during a typical season. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s nonprofit fitness advocate, suggests preventive measures that can be taken to protect the arms of young players.
Repeated overhand throwing, especially pitching, in athletes with still developing musculoskeletal systems can produce a variety of injuries. Even when perfect technique is used, the overhand throwing motion places an undue level of stress on the arm. Most throwing-related injuries in youth baseball involve the shoulder, upper arm, or elbow and typically involve the growth plate cartilage or the connective tissue elements (i.e., the tendons and ligaments).
“Several factors contribute to the ability of young players to pitch relatively safely,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. “Arguably the most significant factors are proper pitching mechanics, adequate physical conditioning and appropriate progression with regards to the amount of throwing permitted during the season.”
A proper physical conditioning program combined with suitable mechanics generally helps prevent injuries associated with overhand throwing. All other factors being equal, a conditioning program (both pre-season and during the season) that includes general fitness activities (e.g., running, calisthenics, and stretching) and specific strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff complex, the shoulder-stabilizing muscles, and the muscles of the arm and forearm will help reduce the risk of throwing injuries in young pitchers.
Above all, safety is the most important aspect for young baseball participants. Parents must take responsibility for their children’s welfare and be informed of possible injuries, warning signs, and preventive measures.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.