Major League Baseball’s Playoffs began this weekend. Physical Therapist Mickey Levinson has training tips to prevent injuries in aspiring pitchers.
1. Limit the number of pitches thrown in a game. Excessive pitch counts have been linked to higher incidences of shoulder and elbow injuries.
2. Avoid throwing year-round, or pitching in multiple leagues during the same season, because the throwing arm needs time to recover. A minimum of three months of rest is required for recovery between seasons.
3. Work with a coach to develop good throwing mechanics. Utilize the core, larger muscles of the hips, trunk and legs to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury to the shoulder and elbow. In addition, striding towards home plate and having a good, long follow through will also reduce the strain on the shoulder and elbow.
4. Avoid trying to ‘overthrow’ pitches. Throwing pitches too hard in order to gain pitch speed may predispose a pitcher to injury. Pitch only to the point of fatigue, not through it.
5. Never ignore persistent shoulder or elbow pain — do not try to pitch through it — and consult your physician. It is important to remember that many minor injuries can become major problems. Signs of deterioration may include: loss of motion, loss of strength or velocity, and tenderness.
It’s National Physical Therapy Month. Stay tuned for more tips from Hospital for Special Surgery Physical Therapists.
Michael Levinson, Physical Therapist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, is a Clinical Supervisor at the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. Michael is on the faculty of Columbia University School of Physical Therapy. He has published numerous chapters and articles on Sports Medicine Rehabilitation, and has lectured extensively on various subjects regarding the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle. Michael serves as physical therapist for the New York Mets Baseball Club. He has been a consultant to numerous youth, high school, collegiate and professional athletes.