*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Daily Rx News.
Baseball is a favorite sport for many kids. For those who take the mound to pitch, however, there is a problem.
A study conducted by researchers from Rush University found that fatigue increased the risk of shoulder and elbow injury. As the boys in the study became increasingly fatigued, their body mechanics changed, which can spell trouble.
"Our study simulated a 90-pitch game for 28 elite, adolescent pitchers and investigated how their shoulder and elbow motions affected pitching speed, accuracy, pain, and pitching mechanics," lead author Peter Chalmers, MD, said in a press release. "As expected, the boys became progressively more fatigued and painful with additional pitches. We also found that their pitching mechanics changed, which may ultimately contribute to injury."
Dr. Chalmers is currently a fellow in orthopedic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.
Shoulder and elbow injuries in adolescent baseball pitchers occur frequently, according to Moms Team, a website for sports parents. Depending on the study, shoulder pain rates varied from 29 percent to 38 percent in youth and older adolescent boys. As many as 58 percent of high school pitchers experienced elbow pain.
Dr. Chalmers and colleagues studied boys between the ages of 13 and 16. Study participants had pitched for about six years and pitched an average of 94 pitches a week.
The researchers assessed shoulder range of motion before and after each game. They measured speed and accuracy for every pitch and videotaped every 15th pitch. Study participants also reported on fatigue and pain after each inning.
Dr. Chalmers and his research team found that as the boys became fatigued, their body mechanics changed, increasing the risk of injury.
"Through our analysis of pitching mechanics, it was noted that core and leg strength may be a key component of fatigue and ultimately injury in pitchers. As pitchers became fatigued, trunk rotation timing began to falter and pain increased. We hope that with additional research, we can work towards programs to help build strength and prevent these shoulder and elbow pitching injuries," Chalmers said.
The study results were presented at the March American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Specialty Day.