Little League Elbow, and What To Do About It
Updated: Jan 15
Welcome back to The ASPR Blog! Today we cover a growing issue in the young baseball community: Little League Elbow.
We will cover 3 things today in this blog post:
1) What is Little League Elbow?
2) What is the treatment for Little League Elbow?
3) What are some ways we can prevent Little League Elbow?
Let's take a look!
What is it?
Little league elbow (medial epicondyle apophysitis) is the adolescent equivalent of a UCL injury that is often seen with throwing athletes like baseball, football, and volleyball players. It presents with tenderness and pain on the medial or inside of the elbow and is aggravated with throwing. Little league elbow is becoming a very common overuse injury amongst throwers between the ages of 9-14 years of age. There are other contributing factors including lack of shoulder mobility (external rotation) and opposite hip (stride leg) internal rotation, and muscle imbalance.
How do we treat it?
The earlier symptoms and underlying causes are addressed, the quicker the recovery.
Key factors to consider for a safe return to sport:
Throwing distances and number of throws should be gradually increased with 1-2 days of rest between throwing days. Athletes should use the crow-hop technique in all phases.
During the rehabilitation process, if throwing is painful you cannot progress to the next phase.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional that is familiar with return to sport guidelines like a licensed Physical therapist. Return to sport programs usually take 4 weeks to complete and consist of a full body warm up, dynamic stretching, proper throwing mechanics, and specific exercise to address possible contributing factors to the mechanism of injury like muscle imbalances, (chest/back) and range of motion deficits (shoulder/hip).
How do we prevent it?
Pitch count and pitch type are two successful ways of helping to prevent adolescent overuse injuries like little league elbow. Adequate rest between pitching sessions is also an important consideration. It is also recommended young athletes hold off on specializing and instead participate in multiple sports and seasonal play instead of year round participation. There has been an overwhelming volume of literature that has
suggested that better athletes are those who play multiple sports as a child and then specialize in a specific sport after their bodies are skeletally mature. If you do not believe me, just look at Patrick Mahomes II of the KC Chiefs. He played both collegiate football and baseball at Texas Tech University before leading his team to a Superbowl win in 2020.
Aviator Sports Performance and Rehabilitation is deeply rooted in the scientific study of human movement and the innovative integration of technology into practice, ultimately aiming to help patients, athletes/clients in maintaining healthy, fit lifestyles, reduce injury risk, and achieve higher levels of sports performance. Our highly trained staff (Composed of Doctors of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialists & Biomechanic Specialists) & state-of-the-art movement screening services can help identify any significant abnormal movement patterns or strength limitations present, and work to provide our clients with a fully customized corrective action plan to mitigate injury risk and help improve performance.
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