Pitcher arm injuries unaffected by elbow location, study finds

The herky-jerky, somewhat unorthodox pitching deliveries of MLB pitching phenoms Tim Lincecum and Stephen Strasburg have led many baseball experts to speculate that undue pressure on their elbows and shoulders could result from the way they pitch. But, for the first time, a study has been conducted to analyze whether the amount of stress placed on the elbow and shoulder is contingent upon the position of the elbow.

Dr. Carl Nissen and a team of researchers from the Connecticut Children's Medical Center determined that both the specific horizontal and vertical position of the elbow, relative to the shoulder, has little impact on stress on the arm. Nissen presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"One of the biggest problems we see is that [children] do try to emulate what the big guys will do on TV," Medpage Today reported Nissen to have said during the conference. "They can't do it – they don't have the core strength, they don't have the leg strength. They try to go through a windup and go to a one-legged pedestal and they lose their balance."

There is no baseball equipment that can be used to prevent arm injuries to pitchers. While the right baseball gloves can ensure smooth fielding and the proper youth baseball bats can help ensure success in the batter's box, proper mechanics and training are the best strategies for staying healthy on the pitching mound.

Coaches can encourage their youth athletes to build strength and grow into their frames before they try to replicate pitching motions they see on television. Parents should actively try to dissuade young players from copying the mechanics of MLB players because they could suffer serious injuries if they place too much stress on parts of the body that cannot handle certain repeated actions.

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