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Avoiding the Disabled List: Takeaways for Players, Parents, & Coaches

I have a steady flow of baseball and softball players who come to see me for shoulder and elbow rehab. Many of the players I see for shoulder and elbow pain exhibit unique characteristics only to the throwing athlete. Given this information and my background, I have preached arm care, throwing programs, and strength & conditioning for years to my clients. If you are reading this, I imagine you care for or have a player, patient, friend, or family member involved in baseball/softball. As someone who sees a high volume of baseball and softball players from youth to the professional level, I have a strong comfort level assessing and treating these injuries.

Key Takeaway Points for Players, Parents, & Coaches:

  •  Do not allow players to throw through arm pain
  •  In the presence of pain, not typical throwing- related soreness, get a thorough medical evaluation to determine the exact source of pain
  • Maintaining adequate shoulder range of motion is important for pitchers
  • Use pain during and after throwing to guide rest, rehab, and return to throwing program (Soreness Rules)
  • Despite reasonable pitch counts, limited innings, adequate rest between outings, and doing arm care, players can still develop throwing-related pain
  • Higher pitch velocity is a factor in injury risk
  • Fatigue plays a role and this may vary player to player
  • Never dismiss pain that occurs with throwing
  • Educate players about throwing- related soreness/tightness so they can differentiate that from true pain
  • If velocity, mechanics, or performance in a player suddenly drops, be suspicious of a potential injury knowing that most players will try to throw through it (look for shaking/rubbing of the arm, grimacing or other body language that is outside the player’s normal routine)
  • If you suspect an injury, seek out an immediate assessment from a knowledgeable physical therapist and/or MD who treats baseball/softball players as they will do a more comprehensive evaluation and uncover the root cause of dysfunction faster
  • Obtain imaging in a higher level player will provide peace of mind for the athlete, parent, and coach allowing for proper care and progression back to throwing.
  • Managing pitch counts, innings pitched, and recovery between appearances will be instrumental in preventing or reducing injuries

A special thank you to our baseball expert therapist, Kenny Patterson, PT at our UBA location for the information in this blog.