The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles and their tendons. They act to stabilize the shoulder as it moves through its full range of motion. Youth rotator cuff injury prevention and rehabilitation has become increasingly more important because of the dramatic rise in major shoulder and elbow surgeries.

Overuse, excessive training, and poor mechanics can cause the tendons at the ends of the rotator cuff muscles to become strained, leading to pain and restricted movement of the arm. Proper throwing mechanics, recovery time, and strengthening exercises are the most important ways to prevent youth rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator Cuff Diagram
Rotator Cuff Diagram

Proper Mechanics For Youth Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention

There are many factors that make up proper pitching mechanics and reduce stress on the elbow and shoulder. Controlled movement, leg strength, upright posture, forward momentum, and proper footwork can all be worked on and improved without ever picking up a baseball.  Physical Therapists who are trained in the treatment of throwing athletes can assess throwing mechanics and address the impairments that may be contributing to excessive strain on the rotator cuff.

Avoid Overuse FOR Youth Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention

As the number of young patients suffering rotator cuff injuries began to rise, the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Commission and the American Sports Medicine Institute conducted a study to create guidelines for pitching and throwing with the goal of reducing the number of injuries related to rotator cuff damage in youth pitchers.

In particular, the focus was on how many pitches a young player could safely throw in each game, and how many games each week should be pitched. 28 different orthopedic surgeons were asked about these subjects, and their responses were used to create a solid answer that has now begun to be considered as the standard for safety and injury prevention in youth baseball.

  • Limit pitches to 68 per game
  • No more than 2 games pitched per week
  • Curve balls should not be thrown by young pitchers until the age of 15.

Strengthening Exercises FOR Youth Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention

The rotator cuff can be strengthened to rehabilitate shoulder injuries, and prevent future ones. As each person is different, an exercise customized to the athlete’s impairments is of utmost importance. Evaluation by a physical therapist will help determine each athlete’s individual needs so that an exercise program can be designed in the appropriate manner.

The sports medicine specialists at One on One Physical Therapy are experts in the treatment of overhead and throwing athletes. We can perform an analysis of throwing mechanics and assess full body strength and function to determine the cause of overload to the shoulder resulting in rotator cuff injury. Contact us today to learn more.