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.
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.
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