By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
- Guidelines regarding risk for overuse injuries have emerged over the recent years
- Previously unknown was whether following the guidelines actually reduced overuse injury risk
- Recently published data shows that parents who are knowledgeable about PitchSmart recommendations and followed them considerably reduced overuse injury rates for their young pitchers
Over the last several years there’s been a growing consensus that some sport behaviors place a young athlete at risk for overuse injury: single sport specialization before age 14, playing that sport in training and competition more hours per week than your age in years, and playing more than eight months out of the year. Sport specific recommendations such as PitchSmart have also emerged.
What was previously unknown was whether following these recommendations actually leads to reduced injury rates. Recently published research indicates that parents who are knowledgeable of the PitchSmart recommendations and follow them with their young pitchers show significantly reduced injury rates compared to parents who were unaware of those recommendations.
As researchers gather additional data from other sports I would predict that we will see similar reductions in overuse injury rates. The recommendations seem to be on the right track.
Baseball has traditionally been viewed as one of the most “quantifiable” sports. Out of a large amount of available data the recommendations for pitch counts and maximum innings pitched per year emerged, and ultimately resulted in the MLB PitchSmart recommendations.
What also became apparent was that young baseball players were often playing on more than one team at the same time, as well as perhaps more than one travel showcase team. Data from other sports is also becoming available, including a recently published study of youth soccer behaviors showing that similar trends are present in that sport.
In the study regarding baseball overuse injuries,an anonymous survey was distributed to parents of adolescent baseball players affiliated with various youth baseball organizations across the Midwestern United States. They found that parents who are knowledgeable about the PitchSmart throwing guidelines and actively follow them are significantly less likely to have a child with an injury. Excessive showcase participation was also predictive of player injury.
Young players, especially the most talented and most ambitions ones, face a lot of pressure to train and play as much as possible. The risk of that type of activity is an overuse injury that can have a substantial negative effect on your ability to play. We are now starting to see evidence that following the appropriate training and competition guidelines has a major effect in reducing your chance for an injury.