Spring Training is Injury Prevention Time for Young Pitchers

Spring Training is Injury Prevention Time for Young Pitchers

With the Cardinals back at spring training in Florida, youth baseball players in the St. Louis area are also returning to the cages to begin their preseason training regimens. For many young pitchers, that means restarting a throwing program after at least a few months off. Having grown and developed in the off season, they’re finding their balance and release points again, and maybe trying out a new pitch or two.

Though it’s fun to focus on those mechanics, players and parents should also remember that preseason is an exceptionally important time to do the work necessary to keep young arms healthy through the long season to come. Arm care isn’t just about counting pitches. The strength and flexibility training young pitchers do in the preseason can mean the difference between ending the season as an all-star and having season-ending surgery.

Benefits of a Preseason Throwing Injury Prevention Program

In 2016, research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (“AOSSM”) Specialty Day reported that a preseason injury prevention program was shown to significantly diminish the risk of a throwing injury in youth pitchers. In the study, young pitchers participated in a program consisting of resistance training with dumbbells and elastic bands, focusing on flexibility exercises four times per week for at least fifteen minutes per session. The results found that they were four times less likely to suffer a throwing injury than a comparable group of pitchers who only followed a normal preseason throwing regimen. Quoted in the AOSSM press release reporting the findings, one of the study’s corresponding authors emphasized that encouraging “parents, coaches, and youth baseball organizations across the country to adopt similar programs [may give] athletes… a better chance for reducing time off the field because of injury.”

Resources for Developing Your Preseason Throwing Injury Prevention Program

You can find guidance from the National Strength and Conditioning Association on preseason training for youth baseball players here.

Parents, players, and coaches with questions about developing a preseason throwing injury prevention program should consult a certified athletic trainer, or contact our team at Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine today.

Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

High school sports have become a popular extracurricular for many teens. They are a great way to stay in shape and help teach teamwork, leadership, and even time management when balanced with other responsibilities. Unfortunately, for many young athletes, injuries are common, ranging from acute to catastrophic. Each type of injury requires specific treatment that may cause them to miss a game, or even the entire season, but healing time is essential for a proper return to the field or court.

If you watch professional sports, you have undoubtedly witnessed any number of injuries throughout the season. Teens are injured at about the same rate as professionals, but the injuries can be much worse if not treated correctly as these young athletes are still growing. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Growth is generally uneven: Bones grow first, which pulls at tight muscles and tendons.” This tension is a major contributing factor of injuries to muscles, tendons and growth plates that are common among young athletes.

There are a few different levels of injury that can occur in athletes. Understanding each can help the healing process and provide a realistic expectation for healing.

  • Acute Injuries: These are classified as bruises, sprains, strains and fractures. Typically, they are caused by a sudden trauma, such as a collision between players or with an obstacle. Another common acute injury is a twisted ankle, resulting in fracture or sprain.
  • Overuse Injuries: As the skill level of a sport increases, so do the practices, training and games. This can result in gradual damage over time as there is not enough recovery time in between to heal. Common overuse injuries have been seen in elbows of baseball pitchers, shoulders of swimmers, and wrist and elbow injuries in cheerleaders and gymnasts. Stress fractures also become very common, as old bone breaks down quickly with overuse and new bone does not have enough time to grow in, causing weakness.
  • Catastrophic Injuries: These types of injuries are more common with contact sports, such as hockey and football, but have been reported in many others. Catastrophic injuries include damage to the brain, spinal cord, or growth plates. Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, have become a hot topic of conversation with their rise in professional football. If a concussion is suspected, the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Neurology recommend the athlete be evaluated and cleared by a doctor before they can return to normal play to avoid any permanent damage. Growth plate injuries occur to the developing cartilage at the end of long bones. These are the final portion of the bone to harden, which is why they are more susceptible to fracture. An injury to the growth plate can cause the bone growth to stop or cause a deformity of the bone.

Any injury that occurs due to sports, particularly if any symptoms or discomfort persist, should be seen by a doctor. Athletes who are pushed to work through pain, or are downplaying the severity in order to continue competing may be causing further damage that could become permanent or even result in a disability. This is where the importance of observation by both coaches and parents comes into play as pain or discomfort can be seen if their technique seems off or they have a decreased interest in practice.

Treatment will all depend on the type of injury and its severity. It could range from simple rest to therapy and even surgery. The injury should be healed completely before the athlete can return to physical activities. While it may not be easy to have to take the time off to heal, it will result in a much better outcome than what could happen if left untreated. Athletes can work to prevent these types of injuries by making sure they are properly conditioned, trained, and using proper equipment. Limiting the number of teams the athlete participates on during a given season can help prevent overuse injuries, and making sure to take breaks between seasons, as well as playing other sports throughout the year, can not only help to prevent injury, but help develop an array of athletic skills.

If you have a teen athlete who has a sports-related injury, contact us today. We will help them with the necessary treatment plan to recover and safely get back on the field.

How Increasing Core Stability Helps in Injury Prevention

Did you know that the core consists of more than just your abdominal muscles? Actually, the core also includes your lower back, hips, and pelvis. Imagine your core as a trunk of a tree. A weak trunk leaves the tree vulnerable to cracks, breaks, and caving. The same is true for our core muscles; a weak core increases the risk of injury because the body’s foundation support is lacking.

How Does a Strong Core Help in Injury Prevention?

Healthshare.com has great information by various health professionals on the importance of core stability. Dr. Peter Dun states:

“For a range of injuries that can be classified as overuse or repetitive – such as types of neck/lower back pain, groin/hamstring/shoulder rotator cuff problems among others – it is important that assessment of the integrated stabilizing system of the body frame [the core] is included in overall injury management.”

Usain Bolt is a great example of an athlete with a strong core, which is a major contributor to his success as a runner.

“The body is a unit – a kinetic chain of links that work together to maximize speed. While certain links are more important than others (glutes and hammies), all of the body’s muscles must be powerful and coordinated for optimal performance. A strong core can help protect Usain’s spine by transferring forces more efficiently and sparing the lumbopelvic structures.” – Brett Contrenas, CSCS

What Are Some Ways to Strengthen Core Muscles?

Building and maintaining a strong core is pivotal for the body to work as a cohesive unit. Many “core” exercises consist solely of crunches and sit-ups; however, research shows that exercise professionals, and even the military, question these types of exercises because of lower back and spine injuries. Additionally, sit-ups and similar exercises only strengthen the outer layer of the abdominal, the rectus abdominis. If the deeper, internal muscles are overlooked, the core will still be weak. Instead, find exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, and diaphragm. Pilates is a great place to start.

We are passionate about our clients! Contact us to find out how we can help relieve pain and assist in injury management.

Tips to keep your feet safe this Halloween!

Top Toe Shape!

With all of the frights, and terrors let’s leave our feet out of the scary mess. Sprained ankles, added weight to your feet from a cosutme or high heels; whatever it may be: below we have listed tips & advice on how to take it easy on your feet this Halloween season.

MO Sports Med, Foot Safety

1. Layers, layers, layers! An overlooked healthy tip in keeping your feet not only warm, but safe from additional harm is to layer your socks especially when it’s frigid outside which often happens around Halloween. Try to stay away from cotton socks as they absorb the moisture.

2. Keep an eye out on the tempature. If you are planning on being out & about on Halloween night, make sure that tempatures are safe for all night activities such as trick or treating. Consider the wind chill when hitting the spooky streets, as wet & cold feet are painful & to help prevent frostbite.

3. Insulation, please. Keep your shoes insulated for added layers of protection. Especially if your customer calls for a thin layer of outer protection.

4. Step out of your costume. Like the above tip, sometimes our costumes call for a very thing shoe & some costumes recommend no shoes. While shoes may not be in style for your costume, we recommend wearing them for support.

5. High heeled beauty. We’re sure you’ve experienced blisters, nerve pain on the balls of your feet, and plantar fasciitis from the heel pain your shoes carry; none of which are a spirited way to end a fun night! Keep in mind that the pain from high heels are not always worth the sex-kitten look your costume may bring.

6. Reflect yourself. Did you know that each Halloween, at least five kids are hit by cars? It is a good idea to put bright, reflective tape on your child’s shoes so they can be seen in the dark.

7. Safety first. There will be several tripping hazard from decorative items on Halloween such as pumpkins, ghouls and other scary decorations on peoples porches, steps and yards. Be sure to talk with your kids & remind them to always be on the look out and to carry a flash light so they can see where they are walking. If sidewalks are available, always use those.

Back to school

Backpack/Bookbag Safety

Bookbag safety, Backpack safety, Back pains

Children’s health and safety has been a continued concern for teachers, parents and health care specialists including Dr. Irvine. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries from heavy backpacks result in more than 7,000 emergency room visits per year. Sprains and strains were among the top complaints in children.
Dr. Irvine suggests double checking the weight of your child’s backpack when it is full.
A rule of thumb, a backpack should weigh only 15% of a child’s total weight.  For example, if your child weights 100 pounds, their backpack when full should weight 15 pounds maximum, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Also keep in mind when school supply shopping this year, that backpack straps should be wide and padded.  Make adjustments to the backpack so that the bottom of the full backpack is not more than four inches below your child’s waistline. If you are concerned about the weight of your child’s backpack, a rolling bookbag is a fantastic alternative option.