Overuse Injuries in Kids Are on the Rise
In his article "The Perfect Storm", author Ron Wolforth describes how kids who play baseball are suffering a record number of overuse injuries from pitching. He cites several reasons for this, including kids who lack overall body strength, schedules that demand kids throw more pitches in more games and a desire to throw more specialty pitches, specifically the curveball. Furthermore, he writes, everyone from coaches to medical professionals gives these athletes differing opinions on how to best overcome the problem, thus creating a vicious cycle that often goes unresolved.
Strengthening the Kinetic Chain
Mike Farrell, former major league baseball pitcher and current scout for the Milwaukee Brewers and pitching coach agrees with Wolforth that playing fewer games and having more practices may be part of the solution. But he also advocates for a more personalized approach to each player’s situation, rather than asking them to fit a mold. “What I see, is that whether it be orthopedics, to physical therapists, to people like myself working with young people, to parents, and ultimately the kid as well, somewhere in there links in the kinetic chain (the sequence of events that must take place in order for an athlete to throw) get broken,” he explains.
“There are so many pieces to this,” says Farrell. “I help kids understand as early as possible that the responsibility for their career and their life is ultimately theirs. My job is to allow a player to get the most out of what he does with his body.”
Steve Krzyminski, sports performance specialist at IU Health Sports Performance agrees. “I think the mechanics are being taught, but they are being taught to fit a mold,” he says. “You have to consider how an athlete is biomedically developed.”
Building up the whole kinetic chain and not just focusing on certain parts is important to helping a child gain strength before he or she starts playing a particular sport, such as baseball. And it’s also great for injury prevention. The Sports Performance specialists at IU Health deliver this through a training program which promotes core stability. “The first thing they do is functional movement screen to check your core and then start working on building core strength,” says Dr. Robert Klitzman, sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon at IU Health. “As an orthopedic surgeon, I don’t see people before they have a problem. I see them when they’ve already suffered an injury. So I promote all the strength training and pre-injury training and core stabilization.”