Tips for Avoiding the Disabled List

I have a steady flow of baseball and softball players who come to see me for shoulder and elbow rehab. Many of these players on the disabled list have characteristics unique to the throwing athlete. Given this information and my background, I have preached arm care, throwing programs and strength and conditioning to players, parents and coaches for years. If you are reading this, I imagine you care for or have a player, patient, friend, or family member involved in baseball.  As someone who sees a high volume of baseball and softball players from youth to the professional level, I have a strong comfort level assessing and treating these injuries.

Tips for Parents, Players and Coaches

  • Do not allow players to throw through arm pain
  • Never dismiss pain that occurs with throwing
  • In the presence of pain – not typical throwing-related soreness – get a thorough medical evaluation to determine the exact source of the symptoms
  • Maintaining adequate shoulder range of motion is important for pitchers
  • Use pain during and after throwing to guide rest, rehab, and return to throwing program (Soreness Rules)
  • Despite reasonable pitch counts, limited innings, adequate rest between outings, and practicing arm care, players can still develop throwing-related pain
  • Higher pitch velocity is a factor in injury risk
  • Fatigue plays a role and this may vary from player to player
  • Educate players about throwing-related soreness/tightness so they can differentiate that from true pain
  • If velocity, mechanics, or performance in a player suddenly drops, be suspicious of a potential injury knowing that most players will try to throw through it (look for shaking/rubbing of the arm, grimacing or other body language that is outside the player’s normal routine)
  • If you suspect an injury, seek out an immediate assessment from a knowledgeable physical therapist and doctor who treats baseball/softball players as they will do a more comprehensive evaluation and uncover the root cause faster
  • Obtaining Imaging in a higher-level player will provide peace of mind for the athlete, parent, and coach allowing for proper care and progression back to throwing
  • Managing pitch counts, innings pitched and recovery between appearances will be instrumental in preventing or reducing injuries
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