Baseball, America’s past time.
It’s that time of year we are about to begin baseball season (whenever the snow melts) and kids all over the area are going to be throwing for the next 2-4 months (depending on team schedule). With this, there are injuries that may occur; probably the shoulder or elbow. Today I will look specifically at little league shoulder (proximal humeral epiphysiolysis) which occurs most often in children between the ages of 11-16. It is an overuse injury caused by stress to the humerus (arm bone between the elbow and shoulder). The growth plate widens which causes swelling and pain at the shoulder. The most common factors contributing to this injury are repeated overhead throwing without proper rest, pitching and throwing without proper technique and lack of muscle strength in the shoulder and shoulder blade area. If this goes untreated the symptoms can worsen which leads to bone damage.
This injury is treated with rest and physical therapy and after 3-6 months the child can return to prior activity levels.
What can be done to prevent this?
Pitch counts must be kept and recorded on all pitchers throwing. Leagues have started requiring pitch counts and limits along with required rest days (depending on how many pitches are thrown). In this age group (11-16) children’s bodies are changing significantly. When it comes to strength, they typically lose strength through their stabilizing muscles (abdominals, shoulder blade muscles, etc.). With the loss of strength through these muscles, the shoulder and surrounding muscles have an increase in strain trying to slow the arm down once the pitch is released. When a young baseball player comes in for therapy these areas will be evaluated, and areas of weakness will be addressed.
In baseball, players (specifically pitchers and catchers) they must maintain strength through the scapular muscles. When pitching, the shoulder blade muscles act as a brake for the arm. If there are no (or weak) brakes the shoulder is relying on other muscles for the brakes.