Top 9 Reasons Pitchers Get Injured – Part 1

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Top 9 - Part 1 1

It’s no secret that the numbers of youth injuries in baseball are staggering. Even with the implementation of pitch counts, youth injuries not only continue to rise but account for many of the injuries ball players eventually suffer later in their careers. Below is a chart of my top 9 leading causes of pitching injuries:

Leading Causes of Pitching Injuries

In Part 1 of this 3 Part series we’ll start to look at what I believe to be some of the main reasons why.

1. Previous / Lingering Injury – Let’s start with what I believe to be the “numero uno”. Common knowledge in the industry tells us that the #1 predictor of injury is a previous injury. A good example is an athlete who has had a lingering elbow issue from a prior year (or years) and is hoping that a shut down in the off-season will help.

This usually isn’t the case with overuse injuries. Once throwing begins the symptoms return, and voila!, another season on the bench. This is also a key reason why injuries are at their highest early on, in the season.

Top 9 - Part 1 22. Early Age Overuse – This is probably the most prevalent issue as well as the one that I believe has the biggest carry-over to some of the other reasons we’ll look at. We are starting to see the results of what these kids did to themselves beginning 10 years ago. The excessive pitch counts in youth and high school baseball is starting to rear its ugly head. Granted we all realize that baseball is part of being a kid. What most people don’t realize is that we have a lifespan on our ligaments. When starting to throw at an early age (7-11), there are permanent structural changes to the growth plates in the arm, shoulder and elbow that change the kinematics of the joint. This is called humeral retroversion. While this acquired increase in ER allows for greater layback, it also comes with a higher risk for injuries associated with “little league elbow “such as:

  • Epicondylitis and physeal plate (growth) fractures
  • Osseous (bony) changes in the humeral head
  • Calcification of the UCL and acromion

Many young athletes are injuring themselves as kids and don’t even know it. This is why playing multiple sports and monitoring pitch counts is of the utmost importance at an early age.

3. Inadequate Strength – If quality weight room work, which is needed to maintain strength, mobility and stability, trails off, so will power on the mound. Pitchers are throwing harder earlier, so much so that they’re writing checks that their bodies can’t cash due to a lack of strength. It will likely leave an athlete vulnerable to a cavalcade of maladies including a gradual drop in velocity (have I got your attention now?), control, and worst of all injury as the season moves onward. When a young athlete gets to a certain age, strength training is no longer an option, nor is it something thing you do only in the off-season. Remember, throwing too much, too little or with bad mechanics are the primary causes of arm injuries…not weight lifting.

Top 9 - Part 1 3

Stay tuned for Part 2, in the meantime…

See ya’ in the gym…


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