Season and career ending injuries are becoming ever more a part of the game of baseball. Shoulder and elbow injuries that require surgery are manifesting at astronomical rates and are developing in the youth population earlier and earlier.
One recent article in Sports Illustrated referenced a few staggering and highly concerning numbers. 7 of the top 11 pitching prospects in 2018 developed season-ending elbow and shoulder injuries or underwent Tommy John surgery. 47 high school pitchers were drafted in the first round between 2011-2014. 40% of those had elbow or shoulder surgery.
The BIG question is, why are shoulder and elbow injuries so common now?
The answer is not a simple one, but is one that can begin to be addressed so that we can start to prevent some of these major injuries and surgeries.
Baseball is not the only place that we are seeing major injuries and surgeries happening at higher rates and in younger populations. The hype around Traumatic Brain Injuries in football players has died down a bit but is still a major concern. Shoulder and low back injuries are occurring all to often in athletes that partake in high intensity training.
The common thread that ties all of these injuries together is overtraining. We live in times that require us to be bigger, stronger, faster, throw harder (at younger ages), hit harder, lift more weight (than we are capable of) and the injury rates are confirming that there is a massive disconnect in how we should be training and how we are currently training.
Technological advances have allowed us to track numbers better than ever before. We can track everything from velocity, power, VO2 Max, speed, recovery time, metabolic rates and more all from our watch or phone. This is great in theory, but has created a craze that has lead to people push harder and harder until their bodies can no longer keep up with the training. That is the breaking point! Plateau, exhaustion, fatigue, decreased recovery, pain and injury follow shortly.
Our bodies have a remarkable ability to adapt and compensate-lucky for us, because injury rates would be even higher based on the poor training methods and form that can be observed all around. This adaptation and compensation should be viewed as a warning sign that change needs to happen or ultimate failure may ensue.
The hardest thing for competitors, athletes, and humans alike to do is stay within their own capability. It is great to push ourselves to work harder, go further, and flirt with the bounds of our abilities on occasion, but it is just as important to make sure we allow our bodies to FULLY recover.
Now is the time to stop worrying so much about how fast a radar gun says you are throwing (even if you can't throw a strike to save your life), how many reps you can perform (even if it's with terrible form), how high you can jump, who is doing something better than you, how many miles a week you put in (even at the detriment of your health). Longevity, health and a long career are much more valuable than temporary success. The biggest favor you can do yourself or your kid RIGHT NOW, is to take a step back and evaluate if what you are doing is in the best long-term interest of your health and body.
If you have to pause, the answer is likely NO. We need to learn how to safely grade and modify and build up to our ultimate goals safely. AND unless you have spent countless hours and years learning how to do this you should not be expected to know when enough is enough, and at what point training becomes over training. You should get with a professional who can help design a program specific to your needs. If you are already spending money on the best foods and a nice gym membership, take the time to get a coach who can help you maximize the things you are already doing in a safe, effective way.
If I could go back and change the way I trained and worked out in my late teens and early 20's I would in a heartbeat. I have learned through mistakes, back injuries and years of education that I can lift less weight and less often and get better results when I focus on proper movement and adequate recovery. A question that is not asked enough, is "how WELL do you move?". The focus right now is how much weight can you lift, how fast can you throw, how fast can you run?
Efficiency and injury prevention have become a passion of ours at Cultivate Physical Therapy & Motion Lab. Our mission is to empower you to move better, with more efficiency and with a decreased risk of injury. We do not want to keep you from doing the things you love, but help you maximize your efforts to get there faster and more safely. If you want to find out how well you move, send us an email asking for the FREE MOVEMENT SCREEN and we will send it today! Don't wait until after you have pain or injury to take control of your health. Today is the day. Prevent injury and start moving better NOW!
Email: Jordan@cultivatept.com for more information
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