Opening day of baseball is this week! As a lot of my patients know, I'm a huge baseball fan and love watching the game, so this time of year is always so exciting! But like any beginning of a sports season, there is always injuries that happen, and it is important to share what the risks are and how you can help.
Although most of the news within sports about injuries comes from football, injuries within baseball are on the rise. Between 2005 to 2008, injuries within the MLB rose 37%, and pitchers were 34% more likely to spend time on the DL. Also within those numbers, 67% of the arm injuries were pitchers. But let's put that into some really interesting terms... during the 2015 season, MLB teams payed players on the disabled list $700 million, $420 of which were pitchers! That's a lot of money to not be producing...
Now I'm quite certain most of you reading this are not MLB players, so what about high school baseball players? Well, it honestly looks about the same, if not worse! ASMI has been doing a much higher percentage of Tommy John's surgery on youth and high school athletes than collegiate and professional. Why is that?
Many baseball players and teams now play year-round ball instead of just fall and spring, so the chronic load on the body is much higher now than it has been. While pitching and throwing techniques do play a role in how much stress is put on the body, the single correlation we see with injuries in baseball is over use. Here are some quick numbers:
You are 3 times more likely to be injured if you pitch more than 100 innings per year
You are 4 times more likely to be injured if you average more than 80 pitches in a game.
You are 5 times more likely to be injured if you pitch more than 8 months out of the year.
Those numbers are pretty solid. Now, that doesn't mean if you go above one of those things, you will be injured, just that your chance of injury grows SIGNIFICANTLY. So what can we do to help this?
The first thing to realize is that throwing a baseball is not good for you. Let's just get that out of the way right now. Throwing a baseball, especially if you are a pitcher, is unnatural. Now I'm not advocating you quit baseball (just the opposite), but there is nothing normal about whipping your arm around at 800-900 rpm, so injuries may occur, and that can't be surprising.
Second, there is more to being a good baseball player than just skill and technique. 4 elements contribute to making an elite pitcher- age & maturity, strength and conditioning, throwing mechanics, and arm care. 3 of those elements you can control, age (unfortunately) is a variable that you have to let run it's course.
All 3 of those elements for a pitcher have to be given EQUAL priority. While every coach and parent may try to push you to either play or throw more, that is just not the case. Take it from some of the pros- many wish they had put more effort into taking care of their bodies at a much earlier age.
Find your balance. Every body adapts differently, so maybe you need more strength work, maybe you need more core and lower body mobility. Or maybe you have no idea what you need? Victory is here to help. We offer athlete specific screenings to help identify weaknesses and possible injury risks, alongside treatments shown to help mitigate injuries. We also have a solid arm care program that we give pitchers, both showing how to do work by yourself and coming into the clinic to have work done. We are home to many professional baseball players, and we use the same treatments for them as we do our youth high school players.
Give us a call today and ask how we can help keep you on the field this season!