Pitchers Face Special Risks on the Diamond

Most Injuries in Baseball and Softball are Suffered by Pitchers

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The sounds of baseball are like a soundtrack to summer. The crack of the bat, the ball hitting the glove.
However for many players, time in the sun is cut short by a trip to the trainer’s room. And one position is at risk more than any other.
“Pitchers are definitely the highest risk group,” said Dr. David Rust of St. Luke’s Sports Medicine Clinic. According to Dr. Rust, pitchers are risk because of the nature what they do.
“Primarily in baseball, we see upper extremity injuries,” said Rust. “So shoulder and elbow problems. A lot of the problems start with the shoulder and typically then progress to the elbow.”
In the last couple decades, governing bodies stepped in, to help keep younger arms safe.
“At each level of participation there are pitch counts and limits on the number of throws that are recommended,” said Dr. Rust.
Duluth Huskies manager daniel hersey was a pitcher during his playing days. He developed arm troubles and had to have the dreaded ‘Tommy John’ ligament replacement surgery. Hersey says his experience makes him careful with how he uses the arms he gets each summer.
“(We) try not to overuse them,” said Hersey. Overuse is what causes everything to happen. We’ve got to make sure guys are stretching and playing catch and warming up correctly to prevent those injuries.”
However, Hersey adds keeping pitchers healthy is more than proper rest and pitch counts.
“Running is key, arm bands, arm weights, stuff like that,” he said. “Guys do a lot of band work to stay healthy, I’m a big believer in that.”
Dr. Rust agrees and warns parents to watch for tired arms.
“When the arm gets tired you start to see poor mechanics,” said Dr. Rust. “Poor mechanics then lead to injury.”
And the problems are not just on the baseball diamond. Softball pitchers face similar risks.
“A lot of the injuries are very similar,” said Rust. “Even though the throwing mechanics are a little bit different, a lot of the injuries can be seen in both groups.”
Doctor rust says anyone on the diamond can be hurt at any time.
“They’re all at risk for injury,” he said. “Proper mechanics and proper training can all prevent injury.”

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