Research

Study Indicates Limiting Innings for Young Pitchers May Not Prevent Injury

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Research from the University of Waterloo indicates that restricting the number of innings young Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers throw may not prevent injuries. A university news release reports that the study also found gradually increasing the total number of innings pitched per season has no effect on young MLB pitchers’ risk of future injury.

Thomas Karakolis, lead investigator, explains that conventional wisdom among coaches and managers holds that restricting innings for young starting pitchers, and slowly increasing the number of innings pitched during several years, gives pitchers’ tissues sufficient time to adapt to the workload of a Major League season.

However, “All our data shows these strategies really made no difference in preventing injury,” Karakolis says.

The release notes that the study investigated injury rates based on the number of innings pitched and five levels of yearly increases ranging from 10 to 50 innings. A year-over-year increase of 30 innings pitched is often used as the limit for the number of innings a young starting pitcher is allowed to pitch in any given season. The researchers found no consistent correlation between injuries and the number of innings pitched or rate of yearly increase, the release notes.

Karakolis explains, “If coaches are looking for ways to prevent injury, simply limiting the number of innings is not the answer. They have to look at how hard a pitcher’s body is working during each inning, each pitch.”

The study results indicate teams may need to invest in biomechanical assessments for each pitcher to more effectively prevent injuries. The release adds that alternatively, coaches and trainers can develop strength and conditioning programs that build soft-tissue capacity during the off season and promote recovery during the season. Young pitchers have greater ability for tissue adaptation than their older counterparts.

According to the release, the study assessed 761 independent pitcher-seasons between the years of 2002 and 2007. All pitchers were under the age of 25 and had pitched at least one-third of an inning in MLB.

[Source(s): Science Daily, University of Waterloo]