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Are You Elite? Little League Pitching Speed And Injury Risk

The Little League World Series is well underway now, and it’s interesting to note the peak pitching speed of some of the athletes. This article notes that several pitchers are in the 65mph to 75mph range and one player actually hit 81mph on one of his pitches in this year’s tournament.

But at what cost? There is an interesting database that puts young pitchers into various categories based upon age, pitching speed, and maximum distance on the throw. An observational study published a few years ago suggests that pitchers in the three standard deviation range or higher on the accompanying chart are “elite” and at risk for arm injury.

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Want To Play Pro Baseball? Play Multiple Sports.

Sports medicine specialists and team physicians want to see all of our athletes succeed to the best of each of their abilities. But we’re also in a position to see the many things that unfortunately go wrong for younger athletes, including overuse injuries, burnout, and psychological stress.

It’s believed that two of the main causative factors in the above problems are early sport specialization and high intensity training at a very young age. For the younger athletes it’s believed that sport specialization hampers the opportunity to develop proper neuromuscular skills and general fitness.

A recently published study showed that young athletes interested in a baseball career at the highest professional level can minimize the risk of overuse injuries and have the potential for greater future longevity by participating in multiple sports during high school.

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“Fortnite Shoulder”?

We are now about two weeks away from the start of the 2019 Little League World Series. There will be a lot of baseball, of course, but there’ll also be a lot of Fortnite and other video games being played. With that in mind I thought it would be interesting to take a look at an article published in 2018 showing a strong association between videogame playing and risk of shoulder and elbow injuries in baseball players.

Researchers from the Tohoku University School of Medicine in Japan found that players who spent three or more hours daily on videogames were 5.6 times more likely to have felt elbow or shoulder pain in the prior year than those who played videogames for less than an hour a day.

Could this possibly be real? Do we actually need to add extensive videogame playing to the list of risk factors for shoulder and elbow injuries amongst young baseball players?

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Are Weighted Baseball Training Programs Safe And Effective?

Over the last several years baseball pitching at all levels from professionals to youth leagues has become increasingly dependent on pitch velocity and power.According to Pitch/FX data, the average fastball velocity in MLB has gone up each year since tracking began in 2008, from 90.9 MPH to 93.2 MPH in 2017. 

This intense focus on pitch velocity has resulted in the development of several speed enhancement programs.One of the most popular forms of speed enhancement programs utilizes underweight and overweight baseballs.In spite of the intense interest in this area there is very little high quality evidence that we can lean on. At this time we simply don’t have the answer to whether weighted baseball training programs are safe or effective.

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Predicting Baseball Related Arm Injury

It would be great if we could take a young baseball player and be able to accurately predict arm injury risk for that player. If we could identify specific factors we could take steps proactively to prevent injury. A recently published study shows that we are closer to being able to identify cause and effect for elbow injuries in young baseball players but still need quite a bit more data to conclusively show cause and effect for shoulder injuries.

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