Baseball Players Beware!
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Because children tend to be less aware of their physical limitations, it is especially important that parents and coaches watch kids carefully for correct throwing mechanics, while advocating proper conditioning and pre- and post-game stretches, according to the APTA. "Attentive parents and coaches will maximize their child's chances of having a healthy season," says Boyce.
APTA recommends three important upper body stretches (pictured): the inferior shoulder stretch, the posterior shoulder stretch, and the rotator cuff stretch. "Once kids understand the proper way to throw, they need to concentrate on a pitching maintenance program that consists of exercise, stretching, proper pitching rotation and volume, and periods of active rest,” Boyce concludes.
PHYSICAL THERAPY TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID INJURING YOUR ARM
And what to do in case you do
Danny Smith, PT, DHSC, OCS, SCS, a physical therapist and board-certified sports physical therapist clinical specialist, runs clinics for Little League coaches in Tennessee. Smith recommends the following:
—Teach young athletes to be mindful of how their bodies feel. Pain is the first sign of a problem, and athletes of all ages need to pay close attention to any type of muscle twinge, tightening, or burning sensation.
—Coaches should carefully observe their pitchers' techniques. Success on the field may be fleeting if the pitches ultimately are damaging a young player's shoulder.
—Conditioning and strengthening exercises are most effective after mechanics are learned and put into action. If possible, begin a conditioning program at least a month before the season begins. A basic stretching regimen should be used before a player ever picks up a baseball.
—Players should start with short tosses and gradually work up to throwing the ball a greater distance. Increasing the velocity should be the final step.
—If the arm region is sore or tight, apply ice to the area for 10-15 minutes to help diminish the amount of blood that might otherwise leak into the muscle. When there is microscopic tearing of the muscle tissue, blood is leaking into the surrounding muscular tissue, causing pain and muscle spasms. Using ice will help reduce the pain, spasms, and inflammation associated with this condition.