For high school pitchers, limiting their number of throws during a game helps prevent fatigue and injuries. However, nearly half of these pitches—ones thrown during warm-ups and in the bullpen—are typically not counted, adding significantly to a pitcher’s risk of injury, according to Florida Health researchers.
The Florida High School Athletic Association limits 17- and 18-year-old players to 105 pitches a day. After observing and counting nearly 14,000 pitches by 115 starting pitchers in North and Central Florida during the 2017 high school baseball season, the researchers found that 42.4% of the players’ throws were unaccounted for in teams’ pitch counts, according to a media release from University of Florida.
The typical player threw about 69 pitches during a typical game, the researchers found. When warm-ups and bullpen activity were counted, the mean number of pitches per game swelled to more than 119.
All of those extra pitches should be counted to determine the true number of pitches thrown and to possibly reduce the risk of overuse injury, says Jason Zaremski, MD, an assistant professor of orthopaedics in the UF College of Medicine and lead author of the study, published recently in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
Zaremzski conducted the study to determine why why pitching injuries haven’t decreased despite pitch-count limits enacted in 2016 and better awareness of other known risk factors.
“The volume of pitches being thrown is much greater that what is being counted. It’s not just the effect of one game. Overuse has a cumulative effect over the course of a month, a season or a career,” Zaremski states.
In addition to making pitchers more susceptible to injury, Zaremski says excessive throwing can have other effects, such as changing their pitching motion, reducing their pitch velocity or reducing their ball control.
The study did not make a correlation between pitch counts and injuries, according to the release.
Next, Zaremski plans to begin studying the forces that are put on pitchers’ arms based on how they are pitching.
Knowing pitchers’ true workloads, he said, can be a useful tool for making changes to their regimens that will help them avoid injuries.
“This re-emphasizes the importance of preparing your arm in the off-season and preseason for the rigors of the regular season. If you don’t do that, your arm is going to break down—particularly as you get older and can start throwing harder,” he advises.
[Source(s): University of Florida, Science Daily]