by Stacy Choquette, PTA
Baseball is considered America’s Pastime and thousands of people have watched, played or participated in some sort of game throughout their life. Have you ever watched the game and wondered how these pitchers are able to throw as many pitches as they do without their arm falling off? Baseball injuries are very common, especially in pitchers. With the repetitive motion and constant torque on their arm to throw that perfect pitch, these players are bound to end up with a repetitive motion injury. So how do you prevent these injuries? When you’re in the major leagues medical help and prevention is waiting around the corner for you. However, the most critical time to instill proper education in injury prevention for longevity is when you’re first learning the sport in little league.
It all begins with proper instruction on pitching including form, mechanics and sensation. Having a pitching coach or working one on one with a qualified trainer can help to instill these habits early. Proper pitching form is very important as throwing incorrectly will only put unnecessary stress on different structures around the joint possibly setting you up for a tear or overuse injury. Knowing when to give your coach or parent feedback on how your feeling and if you are having pain or not is important. Catching an injury early can help to prevent it or make the rehab quicker.
You always want to begin with a warm up to increase blood flow before you start throwing those fast balls. When your body is cold there is less flexibility within the muscles and soft tissue so your body will be more prone to things like strains or sprains. Also, just because you want to be a pitcher doesn’t mean you cannot play the field once in a while. Pitching is a very repetitive motion as stated earlier, taking a day off and giving your arm a rest could mean the difference between staying healthy and acquiring an injury.
Cross training is also important. You want to make sure your body is strong and your shoulder joint is healthy. Proper strengthening and stretching is a must along with change of activity. In off season, play some basketball or soccer. Give your body an opportunity to use your arms in a different way. This will help to keep them strong yet allow a kind of rest period.
What these professional athletes achieve each game on the field is definitely no easy task, but remember, hard work and educating yourself is the best defense to help you reach your goals. If you being to feel pain while playing any sport you should always seek advice from your peers, coaches and even Physical Therapists on how to keep your body healthy so you can continue to enjoy the game. So next time you turn on the Red Sox game or sit at Fenway Stadium, take a minute to appreciate the hard work these athletes put in day to day to perform the way they do. Go Sox!
Stacy Choquette is a Physical Therapy Assistant at Boston Sports Medicine