Study Finds As Pitch Count Climbs, So Do Pitcher Injuries

50 percent of high school pitchers report pain in their throwing arm

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Ethan Hammerberg throws off a mound during practice. Hammerberg was part of a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that researched arm pain and overuse injuries in high school baseball pitchers.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – More than half of high school baseball pitchers report experiencing pain in their throwing arm during the season. To better understand the cause of these injuries, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted a new study to determine when and why overuse injuries were occurring.

To more accurately assess the timing and severity of their pain, players were asked to submit a weekly questionnaire via text message. “We found that the number of injuries peaked early—only about four weeks in—and then slowly declined until the end of the season,” said James Onate, associate professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute. “We see a lot of kids who didn’t prepare in the off-season, and when their workload goes through the roof they’re not prepared for the demand of throwing.”

Researchers are also exploring the biomechanics behind overuse injuries. Onate, and his research partner Mike McNally, developed a high-tech pitching mound that measures the amount of force being driven by the legs, trunk and arms when throwing, as well as a pre-season program to help pitchers properly prepare their bodies to avoid injuries. “We’re starting to pinpoint what’s going to be the personalized approach to an individual to be able to throw, and then tweak it from there,” said Onate. “The whole goal is to keep the kids safe to be able to do what they want to do.”

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Ethan Hammerberg throws off a mound during practice. Hammerberg was part of a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that researched arm pain and overuse injuries in high school baseball pitchers.

In a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, researchers developed a high-tech mound that measures the amount of force being driven by the legs, trunk and arms when a pitcher throws a baseball.

Fifty percent of high school pitchers report experiencing pain in their throwing arm during the season. Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center worked with players like Ethan Hammerberg to better understand the cause of these overuse injuries.

James Onate and Mike McNally look at a 3-D model of a baseball pitcher during his throwing motion. They led a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that studied overuse injuries in high school pitchers.

3-D models chart the movement of baseball pitchers when they throw. A new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center used these models to analyze how much force is placed on a pitcher’s arm and how that contributes to overuse injuries.