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.

Hip Arthroscopy: A Minimally Invasive Option


The hip-joint is one of the most amazing and important joints of the body. A ball and socket joint, it is one of the most flexible, providing a level of mobility that allows the femur to rotate freely through a 360-degree circle and is capable of supporting half of the body’s weight along with any other forces acting upon the body.

Estimable as it may be, like any other part of the body, the hip-joint is capable of suffering several painful conditions due to falls or repetitive use that is common in athletes. The normal wear and tear that comes with age plays its part as well and can lead to arthritis or tears of tendons and ligaments.

Non-surgical treatments that include rest, physical therapy and injections to reduce inflammation can help but some injuries and even diseases demand a more aggressive approach. Bone spurs around the socket; dysplasia and snapping hip syndrome are a few of the conditions that may fall into this category.

In cases like these, your doctor may recommend hip arthroscopy, a procedure where your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your hip-joint. The camera then displays pictures on a screen, allowing the doctor to use these images to guide miniature surgical instruments to the affected area.

Hip arthroscopy is generally performed under general anesthesia and on an outpatient basis.

Recovery will likely include crutches for a specified amount of time, as well as physical therapy to help restore strength and mobility.

For more information on how we can help, contact us

Most Common Youth Sport Injuries

Youth injuries are frightening to everyone for a variety of reasons. From a parent’s perspective, knowing that your child hurt is reason enough to pull them out of any sport for the rest of their lives. Your kids – and possibly their coach – worry that they may never be able to play again.

Thankfully, our body has strong muscles and bones that make us able to re-cooperate with a little rest; or with more extreme cases, some physical therapy. While allowing your child to play a sport has its potential risks, here are some very common injuries that can arise from intramural and team sports.


Sprains & Strains

Many people can get the two of these injuries confused, but they are actually quite different. Sprains are ligament injuries that prevent excessive movement of the joints. Ankle sprains are quite common in sports like soccer, while wrist sprains can occur in football, basketball, and tennis

Strains can injure muscles or tendons. Due to the fact that we are dealing with bundles of cells that produce movement – muscles – and tissue that cushions the bones – tendons – most parts of the body are susceptible to injury.

Growth Plate Injury

The growth plate is an area in children and adolescents that holds developing tissue. When growth is complete, the tissue replaces solid bone. Long bones can include the hands and fingers, the forearms the legs, and the feet. These bone injuries are serious and should be consulted with an orthopedic surgeon.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Hairline fractures and tendinitis are painful injuries related to stress. It’s important to know that these injuries may not always show up on hospital scans while they are still discomforting. Thankfully, a pack of ice and compression will relieve this pain quicker. In the most extreme cases, athletes need crutches, immobilization, and physical therapy.

Keeping kids active is extremely important to us. One thing to remember is that injuries should be reported as soon as they happen. Let us help you get back on the field as soon as possible. Contact us for more information on sports injuries and treatments today.

Turf Toe

You may be wondering what is turf toe, and do you have it? Turf toe is an injury of the soft tissue  structure in the plantar complex of your foot; or better explained in simplest terms as a sprain and pain in your big toe due to hyper-extension such as pushing off into a sprint.

Turf Toe Symptoms, Missouri Orthopedic Care Saint Louis, Orthopedic Doctor in Missouri

Most often, this is found in athletes who are pushing off their toes causing your big tor to hyper-extend.  Similar to other injuries that can occur to the body, there is a range of severity when it comes to turf toe and how it can effect you and the sports you play. These mild to severe injuries include:

Level 1 – This is the mildest pain you may feel with surf toe. You may experience tenderness and slight swelling.

Level 2 – This level is selected when there is a partial tear present causing more tenderness than level 1, and more swelling and may include bruising. Moving your toe(s) can be very limited and painful.

Level 3 – A complete tear has occurred leaving you with severe tenderness, swelling and bruising. It is almost too difficult to even more your big toe(s).

If you believe you are experiencing turf toe, seek medical advice and treatment from Dr. Irvine who specializes in foot and ankle injuries. You can call 314-567-5850 to schedule your appointment.