Spring training is here and its time to start gearing up for the baseball season. Did you know that Little League and adolescent throwers are as susceptible to many of the same stresses on their arms as adult players? Often, injuries that develop at a young age may become more serious as the player becomes older. However, certain precautions can be taken to prevent or minimize injuries. Mickey Levinson, Physical Therapist, offers the following are guidelines that parents and coaches should follow with this goal in mind:
1. Limit the number of game pitches thrown.
2. Prevent young pitchers from throwing curveballs or sliders in games until their elbow and shoulder growth plates have closed.
3. Learn to throw a changeup as an effective alternative
4. Avoid pitching in multiple leagues during the same season.
5. Work with a coach to develop good throwing mechanics.
6. Avoid trying to overthrow pitches.
7. Pitch only to the point of fatigue, not through it.
8. Never ignore persistent shoulder or elbow pain — do not try to pitch through it.
9. Maintain good all-around strength and flexibility with a year-round training program provided by your physical therapist or other qualified health professional.
Michael Levinson, Physical Therapist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, is a Clinical Supervisor at 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.