How to Prevent Baseball Injuries in Youth Sports
Baseball. One of the most popular and competitive sports among young athletes. It’s also the cause of many overuse injuries. Nathalie Davila, M.D., a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Cook Children’s, discusses the most common injuries and shares tips on how to prevent them. She also talks about what to do if they happen and how care for them to help get kids back onto the field and keep them in the game.
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Hi, my name is Natalie Davila and I'm a pediatric sports medicine physician. Today I'm going to talk about injury prevention in baseball players.
Overuse injuries are becoming extremely common in children, especially since the advent of competitive youth sports. If you are a parent of an athlete, you know how the games and practices can overtake your schedule.
While we always encourage children to remain active and play sports, it is easy to overdo it. Children and Adolescents are particularly prone to injury because their skeletons are still immature, and so they are susceptible to injury of the growth plates.
Common injuries that you may have heard about are little leaguer shoulder and little leaguers elbow, which are actually stress fractures of the growth plates in the shoulder and elbow. They occur because of chronic repetitive stress across the joints. And we typically see them in overhead athletes, especially in pitchers and catchers.
Treatment usually consists of resting and rehab. However, these injuries can be extremely frustrating and emotionally challenging for parents and the children to treat due to the time away from sport. The best treatment is actually prevention. The first one is to avoid early sports specialization. This means intense and focused participation in one sport only, at an early age. Many parents believe that specializing early, playing year-round and playing on travel teams will give their children a competitive advantage. And they may also be hoping for potential scholarships down the road. But this is one of the biggest reasons we are seeing so many injuries today.
We actually encourage children to participate in multiple sports and to avoid specializing until about the high school level. This has been shown to help reduce injury, avoid burnout and to help make them a more well-rounded and balanced athlete. Other things that we recommend are to avoid playing for more than one team in a single season. And to make sure that you're taking at least four months off a year from throwing, of which two to three months should be consecutive, or they are in season they should be following pitch counts. So at any given age, they should be only throwing a certain number of pitches. And this can be found on the MLB pitch website.
We also tell children to listen to their bodies. So even if they haven't exceeded the pitch counts, if they are feeling fatigued or feeling pain, these symptoms should never be ignored. Pitching coaches can also be very helpful in ensuring good proper throwing mechanics. And lastly, we also encourage good arm care exercises and warming up and stretching properly.
We hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any other questions please contact your pediatrician or sports medicine specialist at Cook Children's.