Study: Spring training benefits the youngest pitchers of all

WASHINGTON — New research shows arm injury prevention programs can go a long way to keep players healthy and pain-free during their competitive season — be it Little League or high school varsity.

Researchers in Greenville, South Carolina followed 143 pitchers with a median age of 15.7 years old. About half participated in a preseason training program and logged significant improvements in arm strength and flexibility.

More importantly, those with a history of injuries were four times less likely to get hurt again.

Dr. Nailah Coleman, a pediatric sports medicine specialist with the Children’s National Health System, is a supporter of the concept and says “all athletes would benefit from preseason training.”

She says the most common type of injuries seen in young pitchers are elbow strains and damage to the bursa in the shoulder, and those types of injuries spike as the baseball season gets underway in the spring.

Coleman — who is also on the board of the National Youth Sports Health and Safety Institute — says all athletes need to make sure their cardio fitness is up to par before the season, along with focusing on the mechanics of their sport.

The South Carolina researchers added in 15 minutes of injury prevention work four days a week, including resistance training with dumbbells and elastic tubing, and a focused flexibility program.

Coleman says supplementing a balanced practice routine with these additional steps should be sufficient to bring the injury rate down.

She says schools should get expert advice from a certified athletic trainer or sports medicine professional, and even recreation leagues can bring in the pros to offer guidance to parents.

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