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Preventing Youth Baseball Injuries

Elbow and shoulder pain are some of the most widespread injuries in youth baseball, and can be caused by pitchers overusing their throwing arms. The number of pitches thrown per game and the types of pitches thrown may be directly related to pain and injury.

To determine the frequency of elbow and shoulder complaints in youth baseball pitchers and to evaluate possible causes, the authors of a recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise followed approximately 300 pitchers for two consecutive seasons. The 9- to 12-year-old children conveyed arm complaints following each game, and the authors related this to the number of pitches per game or per season and to types of pitches thrown.

Children who threw over 75 pitches per game were 50% more likely to suffer elbow pain than children throwing less than 25 pitches per game. Every 10 pitches per game increased the odds for elbow pain by 6%; this pain was present in more than a quarter of the games played. Shoulder pain occurred in one-third of the games, while elbow pain occurred in one-quarter of games. Both types of pain were also associated with throwing less than 300 pitches over the season, most likely due to underuse of a pitcher's throwing arm.

The authors of this study recommend limiting young pitchers to 75 pitches per game, and advocate consistent pitching to maintain strength and conditioning. The origins of elbow and shoulder pain differ, so be sure that methods for preventing pain at one location don't increase your child's risk for pain elsewhere.


Lyman S, Fleisig GS, Waterbor JW, et al. Longitudinal study of elbow and shoulder pain in youth baseball pitchers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2001:33(11), pp. 1803-1810.

For additional information on sports and fitness, go to https://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/sports.html


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