The Crusader Newspaper Group

IHSA proposes new rules to protect athletes

By Natasha Taylor,

In professional baseball, limitations have long been in place to keep pitchers safe and healthy. On August 30, the Illinois High School Association’s Baseball Advisory Committee followed suit and recommended limitations to prevent throwing-related injuries in high school pitchers.

Some of the main limitations suggested include:

  • A pitcher is limited to 115 pitches in a game.
  • If a pitcher pitches between 76-115 pitches, four rest days are required. Three rest days are required for 61-75 pitches, two for 46-60 and one for 31-45.
  • If a pitcher makes a second appearance within seven days, he is limited to 90 pitches in his second appearance. A third appearance in seven days is limited to 45 pitches.

The full list of recommendations can be found online here.

In October, the Board of Directors will vote to instate these limitations as official rules for the 2017 season.

Dr. Mark Neault, an Advocate Medical Group orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Condell Medical Center, agrees with the recommendations and believes limitations are needed to protect young baseball players.

“There are several reasons that a high school pitcher’s shoulder should be protected, mainly because their shoulders are still developing,” he says. “They still have active growth plates, and growth plates can easily be irritated by overuse. In addition, they are still developing from a muscular standpoint. Well-balanced muscular control of the shoulder is very important. Developing strength and control for a pitcher is crucial for a healthy shoulder.”

Dr. Neault stresses the key to avoiding injury in a pitcher’s shoulder, young or mature, is through proper pitching mechanics and warm-ups.

“Not only does proper pitching mechanics create better pitchers, but it helps to protect against injury by avoiding awkward forces across the shoulder. In addition, proper warm-up is essential, especially earlier in the season when temperatures are often cooler. Stretching also helps to maintain the flexibility of the shoulder, and strength helps to protect and balance the function of the shoulder.”

If a pitcher experiences pain or soreness in the shoulder or elbow, Dr. Neault advises they take time to rest and recover.

He also suggests looking for the source of the problem by evaluating if the pitcher participated in a longer practice or played more innings than normal, and then modify as needed to avoid a reoccurrence. If pain persists, the player should seek medical attention.

Dr. Neault and other orthopedic surgeons at Advocate Medical Group in Lincolnshire host a walk-in Sports Medicine Clinic each Saturday morning from 8- 10 am, August 27 through October 22. It is a fully staffed facility with x-ray, bracing, custom casts and splints. Call 847-634-1766 for more information.

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