Many High School Pitchers Suffer Pain as Pitch Counts Mount

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MONDAY, June 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- The new baseball season could bring pain to lots of America's younger players.

New research shows that more than half of all high school pitchers are likely to suffer discomfort in their throwing arm during the season.

"We found that the number of injuries peaked early -- only about four weeks in -- and then slowly declined until the end of the season," said James Onate. He's associate professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute in Columbus, Ohio, part of Ohio State University.

"We see a lot of kids who didn't prepare in the offseason, and when their workload goes through the roof they're not prepared for the demand of throwing," Onate said in a university news release.

For the study, Onate and his colleagues at the university's Wexner Medical Center asked 97 players to submit a weekly questionnaire by text message.

"Most of the pain reported was mild or moderate and players were actually continuing to play through it," Mike McNally, a researcher at Ohio State University's School of Health and Rehabilitation, said in the news release. "Part of the reason we think we're seeing a decline is because players start to get used to playing through the pain as the season goes on. So they likely still have that pain, it just doesn't affect them like it used to."

Onate and McNally are exploring the biomechanics of overuse injuries. They have developed a high-tech pitching mound that measures the amount of force driven by the legs, trunk and arms when throwing. In addition, they have a preseason program that helps pitchers avoid injuries.

"We're starting to pinpoint what's going to be the personalized approach to an individual to be able to throw, and then tweak it from there," Onate said. "The whole goal is to keep the kids safe to be able to do what they want to do."

One idea: extend the high school baseball season so that games aren't played in close succession, the researchers said. That could ease up on repetitive pitches, lowering the injury rate.

"Spreading out games is important in that it allows players to get some recovery time. Rainouts and postponements force kids to go from playing a few games a week to five or six games per week," McNally said. "When that happens, you have a high school kid that's essentially playing a major league schedule, which can accumulate and cause more pain and injuries."

More information

For more on high school sports injuries, visit the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

SOURCES: Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, news release, June 1, 2018
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