Prevent Baseball Injury: Tips to “Pitch Smart”

Whether you’re a pro baseball player or have a kid that plays in Little League, it’s important to avoid injury.

“Research has shown that pitching too much — particularly at a young age — can increase a pitcher’s risk of injury,” according to Major League Baseball.

That’s why MLB created Pitch Smart, a program designed to help young players reduce arm injuries by providing a resource for safe pitching practices.

With MLB spring training and the Little League season underway, now is a good time to take note of pitching best practices.

Risk Factors + Solutions

Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of a baseball injury:

Pitching While Fatigued

The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) found that adolescent pitchers who undergo elbow or shoulder surgery are 36 times more likely to have routinely pitched with arm fatigue.

How to help: Watch for signs of fatigue during a game, season and throughout the whole year. Talk to a chiropractor or physical therapist about how your arm is feeling.

Throwing Too Many Innings

ASMI found that players who pitched more than 100 innings in at least one year were 3.5 times more likely to be injured than those who did not.

How to help: Count innings. Every inning — whether it be during a game or showcase event — should count toward that 100 threshold.

Too Many Pitches Without Rest

Numerous studies have shown that pitchers who throw more pitches per game and those who do not adequately rest between appearances are at an elevated risk of injury.

How to help: While medical research does not identify optimal pitch counts, pitch count programs have been shown to reduce the risk of shoulder injury in Little League Baseball by as much as 50% (Little League, 2011).

Pitching With Injuries to Other Body Parts

A sprained ankle or oblique strain can imperceptibly affect a player’s biomechanics, changing the way he or she throws and putting more stress on his or her arm.

How to help: Players should be cautious about returning to play after any injury. Once on the road to recovery, a player should talk to the coach and anyone else helpful to make sure they are throwing properly. Physical therapy may be needed to ensure proper recovery. Regular chiropractic adjustments and gentle exercises our doctors can show you can also help.

More Resources

For more information, resources and specific guidelines on how to help players of all ages “pitch smart,” see MLB’s Pitch Smart program.

Chiropractic care is an important part of health, especially for athletes and those prone to injury. Make an appointment with us and we can design a custom care plan for you.