Preseason shoulder range of motion screening as a predictor of injury among youth and adolescent baseball pitchers

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2015 Jul;24(7):1005-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2015.03.012. Epub 2015 May 5.


Background: Approximately 6 million youngsters play organized baseball yearly, and injuries are common. Defining of risk factors for injuries in the throwing shoulder has largely been confined to the professional thrower. Unfortunately, these risk factors apply to only 1% of pitchers at risk for injury. Risk factors for injury in youth pitchers have received far less attention than those in more mature professional pitchers. Development of such an understanding would help clarify injury prevention efforts for the other 99% of pitchers actively participating in competitive baseball. This study intended to determine the ability of range of motion (ROM) measures to predict arm injuries in baseball pitchers aged 8 to 18 years.

Methods: Supine passive shoulder ROM was assessed in 115 pitchers with a digital inclinometer. Two trials of ROM were measured before the season. Arm injuries were prospectively tracked. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to identify athletes who were at high risk for injury. Statistical significance was set a priori (α = .05).

Results: There were 33 injured and 82 uninjured pitchers. Side-to-side differences of horizontal adduction >15° and internal rotation >13° may discriminate between those adolescent pitchers at 4 and 6 times greater risk of injury, respectively.

Conclusion: Preseason ROM differences were able to identify those adolescents at high risk for injury during the season. It appears that the risk profile for adolescent pitchers includes horizontal adduction differences that differ from the established prospective profile in adult pitchers.

Keywords: Baseball; injury; shoulder ROM.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology*