Baseball is a popular and growing sport in Australia. It not only represents a pathway to Olympic representation or a professional contract but combines a number of skills such as hitting, throwing, sprinting and catching. However, like all sports participants, baseball players have a risk of injury.
The upper limb is by far the most common site of breakdown. One recent study found that nearly two-thirds of baseball injuries were in the shoulder or elbow, due to the extreme speeds of throwing in the sport.
The risk of an elbow or shoulder injury was 2.6 times higher for a pitcher than a position player, confirming that repeatedly throwing a ball is a very challenging task for a shoulder! This high breakdown rate is not surprising when throwing is analysed biomechanically.
One recent study revealed some startling data: the shoulder rotates at approximately 12000 degrees per second during a fast baseball pitch! Furthermore, the speed of the hand was measured at nearly 1000 metres/second!
With such enormous forces, it is easy to see why baseball upper limb injuries are so common.
How do you prevent shoulder throwing injuries?
The secret is to maintain the balance around the joint. What exactly do we mean by ‘joint balance”?
Joint balance has two main components:
- The passive structures. These are the bits that hold your bones together such as ligaments and joint capsule, and
- The active components – the muscles that move the joint.
If the passive structures become either too tight or too lax then your throwing movement will become unbalanced. Your joints will either grind too tightly on internal structures when the throwing action forces it into certain positions or will move around too far during the vital acceleration phase, causing microscopic tears.
In either case, the grinding or tearing slowly accumulate until they become major injuries.
The same type of imbalance can occur with your muscles: if they become weak, they will be unable to stabilise your joint during the massive acceleration involved in throwing a ball. Similarly, if some muscles are overactive, they will pull your joint out of its normal alignment, causing accumulated damage.
How can physio help in treating throwing injuries?
First, we assess the balance of your shoulder, including all the passive structures and active components. We then direct your treatment toward correcting any anomalies. For example, you may have some tightness in your joint capsule that requires mobilisation, massage and stretching to loosen it, and some exercises for your rotator cuff muscles to strengthen them and increase their stability. You may need some throwing practise drills to make sure that you use your new shoulder in the most efficient way.
Throwing a fast baseball is an extreme ‘occupational hazard’ for your shoulder, but with the right biomechanics, you can perform it without undue risk of injury. Who knows, maybe an Olympic Gold Medal or an MLB contract might be yours one day … or maybe not. But in the meantime at least you’ll have a lot of fun.
Baseball Pitcher Guidelines
Elbow and shoulder injuries are common in adolescent baseball pitchers. These injuries are often the result of overuse, poor conditioning or suboptimal pitching technique.
Recommendations to avoid these injuries were outlined by the American Sports Medicine Institute in 2013:
- Monitor levels of fatigue, often associated with deteriorating technique as well as with decreased accuracy or pitching speed. If these signs are beginning to surface, allow a break from pitching/throwing.
- Furthermore, if a child reports pain in the elbow or shoulder, cease throwing activities and seek an expert’s opinion.
- Allow a period of 2-3 months with no competitive overhead throwing per year.
- Prevent pitching duties on multiple teams with seasons that overlap.
- A child should not have both pitching and catching duties. This places too great a load on the upper limb with the throwing requirements.
- Ensure spikes in pitch counts are offset with increased rest in the days following.
- Pitching more than 100 competitive innings in a calendar year is considered an injury risk.
- Emphasise the importance of correct technique prior to a velocity focus.
Article by Zoe Russell
Sports Physiotherapy FAQs
Sports Physiotherapy is the specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to spokespeople. Practitioners with additional formal training within Australia are Sports & Exercise Physiotherapists.
What is Sports Physiotherapy?
Sports injuries do differ from common everyday injuries. Athletes usually require high-level performance and demands placed upon their bodies, which stresses their muscles, joints and bones to the limit. Sports physiotherapists help athletes recover from sporting injuries and provide education and resources to prevent problems. Each sports physiotherapist usually has sport-specific knowledge that addresses acute, chronic and overuse injuries. Their services are generally available to sportsmen and women of all ages engaged in sports at any level of competition.
Members of Sports Physiotherapy Australia (SPA) have experience and knowledge of the latest evidence-based practice, professional assessment and diagnosis of sports injuries, and effective hands-on management techniques and exercise protocols to assist recovery and prevent future damage. SPA members have access to the most recent advances in sports physiotherapy. You'll be pleased to know that most PhysioWorks physiotherapists and massage therapists are particularly interested in sports injury management.
General Sports Physio FAQs
- Sports Physiotherapy
- Acute Sports Injury Clinics
- Sports Physiotherapy Treatment
- Youth Sports Injuries
- Sports Injury? What to do? When?
- When Can You Back to Sport?
- Sports-Related Injuries
- Knee Sports Injuries
- Sports Health Conditions
Understanding Common Muscle Injuries: A Comprehensive Guide
Muscle pain, also known as myalgia, can result from various causes and can affect different areas of the body. Managing and preventing discomfort requires a clear understanding of these common muscle injuries. This comprehensive guide aims to explore several sources of muscle pain, including injuries in the neck and back, strains in the lower limbs, conditions in the upper limbs, systemic causes, and more.
To provide valuable insights into the management of common muscle injuries, this guide offers answers to frequently asked questions and suggests products that can aid in your recovery. Access additional information about each specific injury by clicking the provided links.
Neck & Back Muscle Injuries
Lower Limb Muscle Injuries
Upper Limb Muscle Injuries
Systemic Causes of Myalgia
More Information: Myalgia
FAQs & Products
Common Ligament Injuries
Ligament injuries are common in the human body, often causing pain, discomfort, and limitations in mobility.
Various body parts are prone to ligament injuries, such as the knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, hand, and spine. Among the most prevalent are knee ligament injuries, which include ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries, as well as MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) sprains.
In addition, ligament injuries can affect other areas, such as the shoulder, leading to AC (Acromioclavicular) joint injuries and dislocated shoulders. Wrist and hand ligament injuries, including thumb and finger sprains, are also common. Furthermore, ligament injuries can occur in the spine, resulting in back and neck sprains and conditions like "text neck" and whiplash. Understanding these common ligament injuries is essential for prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment, enabling individuals to regain their functionality and resume their daily activities.
Knee Ligament Injuries
- Knee Ligament Injuries
- ACL Injury
- PCL Injury
- MCL Sprain
- LCL Sprain
- Posterolateral Corner Injury
- Patella Dislocation
- Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain