CHICAGO, June 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Sports medicine experts in Illinois are leading a preemptive strike against high school overpitching in the U.S. Concerned that only eight states have pitch count regulations for high school pitchers (MN, CO, AL, AZ, KY, WI, VT, OK), sports medicine physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) are joining forces with athletic trainers and pitching experts calling for all states to regulate pitch count for what they call an "epidemic" of shoulder and elbow injuries of youth pitchers in this country.
"Elbow and shoulder injuries in throwing athletes have increased because young elite pitchers are throwing faster and harder in hopes of playing college ball and making the pros," admits Dr. Greg Nicholson, MOR sports medicine physician. "That's why high school associations throughout the country need to take action and regulate pitch count."
Parents and players envision scholarships. However, MOR physicians, who are team doctors for the Chicago White Sox, care about the long-term effects of shoulder and elbow overuse.
MOR physicians have completed a series of studies investigating the health of young throwing athletes and all reach the same conclusion: high school pitchers are throwing too much without proper recovery time. They also believe pitchers should play more than one sport, rest between seasons and do appropriate warm ups and strength training.
Their most recent study found that improper core and leg strength may be a key component of fatigue and ultimately injury in pitchers. As pitchers became fatigued, trunk rotation timing begins to falter and shoulder and elbow pain may increase.
They have also conducted several studies about the rising number of Tommy John surgeries to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. Perhaps the most notable study found that teenage athletes make up the fastest-growing segment of patients undergoing Tommy John surgery.
"Ten years ago, Tommy John surgery was considered a treatment option used primarily for Major League Baseball (MLB) players," says Dr. Romeo. "Today, more than half of all Tommy John surgeries are for patients between ages 15 and 19. That's because young athletes are throwing harder, faster, and perhaps most importantly, playing year round."
To help educate coaches, parents, players and high school association members, MOR physicians, along with members of the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association (IATA) and the National Pitching Association are participating in a program called Shoulders for Life, which encourages regulating pitch count and more rest time and cross training for throwing athletes.
To obtain a "Shoulders for Life" bag tag with injury prevention tips, visit: www.shouldersforlife.org.
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SOURCE Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush