How To Reduce Elbow Injuries In Youth Baseball Players
Baseball season is upon us, my favorite time of the year! The smell of freshly cut grass, Crackerjacks, and hardball! The season also means a lot of field and practice time for your athlete. That leads to vulnerability, one area of the body that is particularly at risk for injury is the elbow. A common topic at Sports Performance is that we LOVE working with young athletes. We want to help keep them healthy and strong throughout the season without taxing their ability to play and play hard! Here are our tips for keeping your athlete’s elbow healthy with throwing!
A dynamic warm up is one essential tip to stay healthy. Dynamic warm ups are perfect for enabling nervous and muscular system activation, getting everything working together, improving blood flow/circulation, and preparing the body for the harder and longer throws required for game time. First, perform full body mobility movements followed by throwing specific exercises. We’ve got you covered! Check out our video below.
First, perform full body mobility movements followed by throwing specific exercises.
Continue to work on strength throughout the season. Baseball is taxing to your athlete’s body. Training your legs, hips, glutes, upper back and shoulders allows them to contribute to the power generating mechanics for throwing. If they are not doing their part, abnormal stress and force will move into other body parts. The elbow is particularly at risk for these stresses and forces. Keep strength workouts to twice a week, keep them short, thirty minutes to forty five minutes max. Work on full body strength to keep body regions from getting too sore. Keep weight/resistance used to moderate levels. One versatile tool to use is an elastic resistance cord with handles on each end (such as the Crossover Symmetry), which can be used for strength as well as that dynamic warm up mentioned above.
Work on full body strength to keep body regions from getting too sore.
In addition to strength, mobility and flexibility need to be addressed as well. Due to the asymmetrical movements and repetitive nature of baseball, not only muscular but mobility imbalances will happen. Stay on top of it! Use your foam roller, lacrosse balls, and massage stick to keep your athletes legs, hips, glutes, upper back and shoulders OPEN. This allows the body to have and keep access to the motions it needs to be able to throw safely and effectively, especially in the hip and upper back. Again, the hips and upper back are where power is created in the throw and having the ability to load and then explode out of these regions decreases abnormal forces being transmitted into your athletes elbow.
Lastly, make sure your athlete is getting adequate sleep, hydration, and nutrition that they need to rest and recover to their full potential. Lack of sleep puts us at risk for injury, slows reaction time, and decreases time to fatigue. My number one tip for this is to decrease screen time before bed, shut it down at least a half hour before bed, and let their nervous system unwind. Hydration helps to keep our bodies in balance and keep muscles and organs working the way they should. Dry muscle is brittle muscle. Physical activity breaks down our muscles and depletes our bodies of their energy; proper nutrition allows for full and faster muscle recovery and fills us with the molecules that we need to stay at the top of our game!
Stay healthy! Be active!
-Dr. Nick Schroeder, PT, DPT
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