Parents, coaches, and youth athletes, themselves commonly ask what is the one thing I should be doing to prevent injuries. While there is no magical pill, many factors play into decreasing your risk of injury and affecting your sports performance. Injury prevention is much easier to manage than dealing with an injury, but sometimes you do not know what to focus on. These issues can evolve into different problems later in a professional player’s rehab or training program but there are some approaches that you can use now that will be beneficial.
One of the first places to start with youth athletes is strength training. This does not mean they have to squat 300 lbs to get stronger as there are many safe, conservative approaches to improve results. The use of kettlebells, therabands, bodyweight exercises, and progressive loading has been shown to improve your general strength. As these players grow and put stress on an evolving body, injuries can happen when there isn’t enough stability to meet the demands of the sport. Professional baseball players are stronger, fast, and more athletic than ever before and one of the biggest contributors to this is how much more emphasis athletes have put into training off the field. So this trickles down into youth athletics where coaches and medical professionals who work with athletes acknowledge that it's safe and you have better results when your body is more resilient overall. Finding a quality strength and conditioning coach that focuses on movement quality and control versus just making them tired.
One of the biggest differences between professional athletes and youth athletes is that youth athletes might not have as refined warm-up, recovery, or seriousness in how they treat their bodies. At times youth players may feel like they are invincible while the parents or coaches roll their eyes at their child saying they do not stretch or dynamically warm up, eat properly, get on a consistent sleep schedule, or do anything to help their body recover optimally. Over the course of a long season or multiple years of these suboptimal factors, it can add up and get unwanted injuries or performance. Rest is often recommended for every injury imaginable but relative rest is what evidence shows works the best. Young pitchers should not pitch on consecutive days or in multiple games per day. Players should avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons. The general recommendation is to have a 2-4 month “off-season” that does not involve throwing. During an off-season or non-baseball season playing another sport can be super beneficial not only in improving the player's athletic abilities and physical capabilities but also has been proven to be a tremendously positive mental effect.
Injuries can happen even if you do everything right, but I hope this can help answer a few common questions regarding youth baseball players in regard to injury prevention. We would love to help get you back to performing your best. Give us a call at 727-228-3030 or schedule online at strengthchiro.com
Dr. Caleb Hebert, DC