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Young Baseball Players Benefit from Preseason Arm Injury Prevention Programs

ATI Physical Therapy author Charles A. Thigpen recently presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Specialty Day, on research which demonstrated that a preseason prevention program is beneficial to young baseball pitchers. The study, the first to analyze a well-monitored preseason training program, showed improvement in arm flexibility and strength for participating athletes that contributed to a diminished risk of arm injury.

“These days, pitchers are starting younger and younger. While there are rules governing the number of pitches these children can throw, the pitches are becoming harder and faster every year. It’s the price of admission these days to be a successful pitcher at any level of play,” said study author Thigpen, PT, PhD, ATC, from ATI Physical Therapy in Greenville, South Carolina. “Why not look for ways to prevent or minimize these types of injuries in kids? With the right preseason training program, our study showed reduced posterior shoulder flexibility deficits as well as improved posterior shoulder strength. Additionally, it’s important to note that pitchers with previous injuries saw the most benefit from the preseason program.” 

While further studies are needed to adequately confirm these benefits, pitchers who had previous injuries and participated in the preseason training program were 4 times less likely to suffer an injury than those in the general arm care program. The study group included 143 pitchers at a median age of 15.7, of which 88 participated in additional preseason training and 76 continued with normal training. 

The prevention program was supervised by an athletic trainer and included resistance training with dumbbell weights and elastic tubing, as well as a focused flexibility program. This required an approximate 15-minute commitment from pitchers, 4 times a week. 

“If we can encourage parents, coaches, and youth baseball organizations across the country to adopt similar programs, athletes may have a better chance for reducing time off the field because of injury, especially considering the increased effectiveness of the program in preventing subsequent arm injuries,” continued Thigpen. “Since a large percentage of these kids will end up pursuing other professional areas in their adult years, why not take precautionary measures now to prevent long-term damage?” 

This research was funded by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation. http://natafoundation.org

For more information on this and other studies, visit sportsmed.org or stopsportsinjuries.org.