Today’s athletes are expected to be more specialized at a much earlier age.
This is both good and bad. From the perspective of skill acquisition and the timing and repetition required to become or approach elite status, specialization may have a benefit. From the perspective of over-training and diversification of activity, early specialization may negatively influence an athletes’ progression toward elite status. In the competitive arena of travel baseball and high school and collegiate athletics, the pressure to perform and specialize is greater than ever. Most coaches are under pressure in these environments to succeed at whatever the cost.
All of this points to the overuse and lack of rest required to protect talented athletes.
Pitch counts and rest periods are somewhat being enforced in the younger age groups but as athletes become singled out and placed on more competitive teams these guidelines become less rigid. What this leads to and what we already know is there is an increased incidence of injury to the shoulder and elbow in youth athletes. The volume of throws over an athletes’ competitive lifetime is reinforced and ingrained in their nervous system as more and more throws accumulate. If the movement pattern that an athlete has developed over time predisposes them to injury because of improper sequencing, poor lever arm positioning, or core instability, the injury process accelerates. We have seen an alarming number of athletes in the last ten years injured as a result of excessive use, lack of recognition of the precursors to injury, or just plain neglect. Young athletes rarely accept that they should discontinue throwing when the first signs of injury appear or the progression towards injury is occurring. The Internet can be a valuable tool for investigating training and performance enhancement programs, but it is also easy to create the perspective that the program is legitimate or manipulate an athlete’s decision to spend money on a product that has very little chance of following through on what it is promoted as.
The OAI was created out of necessity and turned into something completely else.
We started out working with primarily injured athletes struggling to get back on the field. After working with these injured athletes perfecting their segmental stability and flexibility and correcting the timing of their kinematic sequence, they outperformed their previous competitive level. It didn’t take long for this information to spread. Little League shoulder/elbow and Tommy John injuries happen way too often and are the result of many contributing factors. Sometimes it is improper timing or positioning. Sometimes it is improper or inadequate training. Sometimes it is overuse. Mostly it is all three.
Protecting yourself or your young athlete requires persistence. I lost my career because no one realized that I had poor positioning of my shoulder and elbow prior to the acceleration phase of the throwing motion. The medical professionals involved in my rehabilitation never altered my throwing motion to protect my arm in anyway. Those individuals are still employed in professional baseball today. This alarms me and should alarm you as well!
At the OAI we show you why it is important to be involved with medical professionals with clinical and practical experience. We do what we do because we love it and know we were meant to.