Background: Throwing injuries of the shoulder and elbow are common among youth baseball players.
Hypothesis: A prevention program will reduce the incidence of throwing injuries of the shoulder and elbow by 50% among youth baseball players.
Study design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: The authors block randomized 16 youth baseball teams consisting of 237 players aged 9 to 11 years into an intervention group (8 teams, 117 players) and a control group (8 teams, 120 players). The intervention program consisted of 5 stretching, 2 dynamic mobility, and 2 balance training exercises performed during warm-up. Both groups were followed up for 12 months, during which the incidence of shoulder and elbow injuries was recorded. In addition, ball speed during pitching as a performance-related factor and variables of physical function (passive range of motion of the elbow, shoulder and hip, dynamic balance, and thoracic kyphosis angle) were assessed during the pre- and postintervention periods.
Results: The incidence of shoulder and elbow injuries in the intervention group (1.7 per 1000 athlete-exposures) was significantly lower than that in the control group (3.1 per 1000 athlete-exposures) (hazard ratio, 1.940; 95% CI, 1.175-3.205; P = .010). The factors related to pitching performance, as assessed by ball speed, tended to increase in the intervention group as compared with the control group (P = .010). The program also improved shoulder horizontal adduction deficits on the dominant side, hip internal rotation on the nondominant side, and the thoracic kyphosis angle.
Conclusion: A prevention program decreases throwing injuries of the shoulder and elbow and enhances the parameter of pitching performance in youth baseball players.
Keywords: injury prevention; randomized controlled trial; shoulder and elbow injury; youth baseball players.