Child Athlete Injuries
As a team physician for the St Louis Cardinals during their 2011 World Series Championship season, I learned a lot about the importance of players taking care of themselves firsthand. I would see players preparing themselves both mentally and physically for the game ahead. Kids look up to these players and emulate them. Major League Baseball (MLB) recognizes this and wants their youth players to be healthy and play as safely as possible. This is why MLB took time, energy, and resources, to determine what would be best for today’s young pitchers. Below is a snapshot of what the MLB and the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) found as risk factors for the young pitcher. It’s recommended that these guidelines be followed by coaches, parents, and players.
The MLB Pitch Smart guidelines provide practical, age-appropriate parameters to help parents, players, and coaches avoid overuse injuries and encourage longevity in the careers of young pitchers.
It was found that specific risk factors were seen as creating a higher incidence of injuries. According to the ASMI, youth pitchers that had elbow or shoulder surgery were 36 times more likely to regularly have pitched with arm fatigue. Coaches and parents are encouraged to watch for signs of pitching while fatigued during their game, in the overall season, and during the course of the entire year.
The ASMI also found that players that pitched more than 100 innings over the course of a year were 3.5 times more likely to be injured than those who did not exceed the 100 innings pitched mark. It’s important to note that every inning counts. Games and showcase events should count toward that total number of 100.
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Rest is key. Overuse on a daily, weekly, and annual basis is the greatest risk to a young pitcher’s health. Numerous studies have shown that pitchers that throw a greater number of pitches per game, as well as those who don’t get enough rest between outings, are at a greater risk of injury. In fact, in little league baseball, pitch count programs have shown a reduction in shoulder injuries by as much as 50% (Little League, 2011). Setting limits for pitchers throughout the season is vitally important to their health and longevity in the game.
Pitching with injuries to other areas of the body will also affect a player’s biomechanics and change the way he delivers his pitch. An ankle, knee, hip, or spinal injury can cause changes in the biomechanics of how a player throws and will put more stress on his arm. Be cautious with these injuries, because at times the changes in the mechanics of the player can be very subtle; however, they can cause a significant amount of strain on a player’s pitching arm.
For best results for your youth baseball player’s longevity in the sport and keeping a healthy arm for seasons to come follow the MLB’s pitch count and required rest guide.
3 Common Shoulder Sports Injuries
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, which also makes it prone to injury. If you’re an athlete, taxing your shoulder over time with repetitive, overhead movements or participating in contact sports may put your shoulder at risk for injury.
There are several nonsurgical and surgical options available to treat labrum tears in the shoulder.
These are three common shoulder injuries caused by sports participation:
1. SLAP Tear
This is a tear to the ring of cartilage (labrum) that surrounds your shoulder’s socket. A SLAP tear tends to develop over time from repetitive, overhead motions, such as throwing a baseball, playing tennis or volleyball, or swimming.
You may notice these telltale symptoms:
- Athletic performance decreases. You have less power in your shoulder, and your shoulder feels like it could “pop out.”
- Certain movements cause pain. You notice that pain occurs with certain movements, like throwing a baseball or lifting an object overhead.
- Range of motion decreases. You may not throw or lift an object overhead like you used to, as your range of motion decreases. You may also find reaching movements difficult.
- Shoulder pain you can’t pinpoint. You have deep, achy pain in your shoulder, but you can’t pinpoint the exact location.
If you have a SLAP tear, you may also notice a clicking, grinding, locking, or popping sensation in your shoulder.
2. Shoulder Instability
It’s common to experience shoulder instability if you’re an athlete. This injury can occur if you’re participating in contact sports, including football or hockey, or ones that require repetitive movements, like baseball.
Shoulder instability happens when your ligaments, muscles, and tendons no longer secure your shoulder joint. As a result, the round, top part of your upper arm bone (humeral head) dislocates (the bone pops out of the shoulder socket completely), or subluxates (the bone partially comes out of the socket).
Dislocation is characterized by severe, sudden onset of pain; subluxation (partial dislocation) may be accompanied by short bursts of pain. Other symptoms include arm weakness and lack of movement. Swelling and bruising on your arm are visible changes you may also notice.
When treating a rotator cuff injury, doctors may order medical imaging right away or prescribe nonsurgical treatment and take a wait-and-see approach.
3. Rotator Cuff Injury
This is another injury commonly seen in athletes participating in repetitive, overhead sports, including swimming and tennis. Rotator cuff injuries are typically characterized by weakness in the shoulder, reduced range of motion, and stiffness.
Rotator cuff injuries are also painful. Here’s what you need to know:
- Pain at night is common; you may not be able to sleep comfortably on the side of your injured shoulder.
- Pain may be experienced with certain movements, especially overhead movements.
- Pain in your shoulder or arm may also occur.
Similar to a SLAP tear, people with rotator cuff injuries often experience achy shoulder pain.
Being aware of these injuries and knowing their symptoms may encourage you to seek medical treatment sooner; early treatment intervention could result in a better outcome and earlier return to sports.
6 Tips to Prevent Shoulder Pain
There’s nothing more frustrating for an athlete than sitting injured on the sidelines watching others compete. Although there’s not one foolproof way to stop shoulder pain from occurring, there are several tips that may help prevent it from starting or getting worse.
Shoulder pain and injury are more common in people who play sports with repetitive overhead shoulder motions, like tennis.
If you notice shoulder pain during certain activities, say while throwing a baseball or swimming, stop that activity for a period of time and find an alternative exercise, such as riding a stationary bike. Doing so can give your shoulder some time to rest and heal, while maintaining your cardiovascular fitness.
At the same time, don’t eliminate all shoulder movement. This is because you don’t want to develop a stiff shoulder from infrequent use. Consider doing some mild stretches to keep your arm moving.
2. Change Your Sleeping Position
If you notice pain in your right shoulder, don’t sleep on your right side. Try sleeping on your left side or back instead. If sleeping on your back irritates your shoulder, try propping your arm up with a pillow.
3. Warm Up
Exercising cold muscles is never a good idea. Before practicing your volleyball serve or baseball pitch, warm up your body with mild exercise. For example, start walking for a few minutes and gradually build up to a jog. Doing so raises your heart rate and body temperature and activates the synovial fluid (lubricant) in your joints.1 In other words, a mild warm up gets your body ready for the intense workout that follows.
4. Build Up Your Endurance
It’s a good idea to increase your endurance over time. If it’s been a few weeks or months since you’ve hit the tennis court, consider playing for a short period of time—maybe just 20 minutes to start—and build up to a longer period of playing time. Don’t fall into the trap of doing too much too soon, especially when your body is not used to it.
5. Increase Your Shoulder Strength
Strengthening your shoulder muscles can help provide support and stabilization to your shoulder joint. This, in turn, may prevent painful injuries like a shoulder dislocation, which is when the ball of your shoulder comes out of its socket.
Speak to your doctor before starting a strengthening program. They can suggest exercises to perform or may recommend working with a physical therapist.
Some sports are particularly taxing on the shoulder due to repetitive, overhead movements. So you may want think about cross-training. If you’re a swimmer, for example, alternate some of your swimming workouts with a running or biking workout to reduce the stress on your shoulder, while still staying physically fit.
Alternatively, if you’re a painter or construction worker—two occupations commonly associated with repetitive, overhead movements—talk to your boss and ask if there are other non-repetitive tasks you can take on.
Above all, listen to your body and be proactive. You may need to make some adjustments to workout or daily routine to help prevent further damage down the road. It may also be worth getting your doctor’s input, even if you think you’ve got a minor injury. Catching injuries or discomfort early may help keep you in the game and prevent painful injuries down the road.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.elpasochiropractorblog.com
Being aware of sports injuries and knowing their symptoms may encourage you to seek medical treatment sooner as early treatment intervention could result in a better outcome and earlier return to sports. For Answers to any questions you may have please call Dr. Jimenez at 915-850-0900
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