Spring training has begun, and youth baseball players all over the country are starting to practice and prepare for their upcoming seasons. My very own 14 y/o son has started his 8th grade season, while having been working with his travel team on the weekends since mid December.
As a physical therapist, former player, father, and assistant coach on his 14U team, my first concern is always the health of a player. I see several baseball players in my sports medicine practice ranging in age from 9 year olds to MLB platers. Diagnoses include internal impingement, SLAP tears, little league elbow/shoulder, OCD, UCL sprains, rotator cuff tendinitis, instability, fractures and scapular dyskinesia.
One of the hardest things to do in my profession is get inside the head of a young athlete. Many will refrain from mentioning pain for fear of letting down a parent or coach, or out of concern for losing playing time. Society has become too focused on early specialization and winning from an early age. In addition, “travel baseball” has been somewhat diluted and water down by lots of dads who want their sons to play year-round. I often see kids being abused on terms of too little rest or improper recovery after they pitch and catch.
The biggest, most athletic and hardest throwing kids undergo the most strain as they are asked to shoulder the load at pitcher, catcher and shortstop early on. Many coaches are counting innings in tourneys and not pitches based on tournament guidelines. Too many kids are pitching on consecutive days without proper rest all in an attempt to win meaning less tournaments at a young age. Fortunately, we are making progress in the sports medicine world thanks to the efforts of Dr. James Andrews and others.
High schools are adopting pitch count regulations this year, and MLB along with Dr. Andrews has developed their site, www.pitchsmart.org, to spread education about injury prevention in youth pitchers. Dr. Christopher Ahmad is on the advisory committee for PitchSmart.org, and he is also the lead author on a new paper detailing an injury assessment tool for young baseball players, The Youth Throwing Score.
Many of my clients need to improve shoulder and pillar stability. Combating poor glenohumeral and scapular stability and insufficient trunk stability is a must to reduce injury risk, resolve shoulder and back pain and eliminate compensatory motion with exercise, sport and life.
The following two exercises are “go to” ones I utilize to do just this.
The links above are for two recent exercise columns I authored for PFP Magazine. These exercises include load bearing using the client’s bodyweight and include progressions and regressions.
It is no secret that elbow injuries have been on the rise in MLB as well as all levels of baseball. I see far too many adolescent baseball pitchers in my clinic with medial elbow pain. Often it is related to pathological GIRD and proximal imbalances in the shoulder complex.
Researchers have been studying biomechanics for years. It has long been a belief that younger pitchers should focus on fastballs and change-ups, while minimizing curveballs. Currently, the prevailing thought and latest evidence seems to suggest that velocity may be the bigger risk factor or determining factor in leading to UCL injuries.
A paper in the August 2016 edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine from Rush University Medical Center sought to determine factors associated UCLR among MLB pitchers. The hypothesis was that those pitchers who underwent UCLR would have a higher pre injury pitch velocity.
This retrospective case controlled study looked at data for pitch velocity, type and number for every pitcher and game were gathered from the PitchFx database from April 2, 2007 to April 15, 2015. Data from 2013 - 2015 was excluded to avoid lead in time bias, as pitches in these seasons may contribute to injuries in pitchers who have not yet undergone UCLR. Pitchers were classified as control, pre injury or postoperative.
It is time to clear out some product inventory this year. To that end, I am offering a 50% off sale for one week only. This sale is on all physical products as well as e-books. I am also offering this discount on my printed version of the Ultimate Rotator Cuff Training Guide, of which I only have five remaining copies.
Simply enter code BFIT50 at checkout to save 50% on your entire order. Click Here to view all products.
This sale will end Monday July 18, so act now while supplies last.
Improving lateral chain strength is always a priority when training or rehabbing athletes. Improving anti-rotation stability is particularly important for injury prevention and dissipation of forces in the transverse plane. Whether working with a post-op ACL client or training an overhead athlete, I am always seeking ways to increase torso/pillar stability to increase efficiency of movement and reduce injury risk.
This video below from my Functionally Fit series for PFP Magazine will demonstrate a great exercise do accomplish these training goals.
Emphasis should always be placed on maintaining alignment. Do not progress the load too quickly, and be cautious if using the fully extended down arm position if clients have a history of shoulder instability or active shoulder pathology as this places more stress on the glenohumeral joint. Below are some progressions and regressions as well:
1. Decrease the hold time as needed to maintain form and alignment
2. Allow the kettlebell to rest against the right dorsal wrist/forearm
3. Stack the top foot in front of the other foot as opposed to stacking them on top of one another to increase stability
4. Bend the knees to 90 degrees to reduce the body’s lever arm
1. Increase the weight of the kettlebell and/or increase hold time
2. Lift the top leg away from the down leg
3. Add light perturbations to the top arm during the exercise to disrupt balance and challenge stability
4. Perform the exercise with the down arm fully extended