Docs warn about sports-related injuries as baseball/softball seasons get underway

Docs warn about sports-related injuries as baseball/softball seasons get underway

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

HENRIETTA, N.Y. — It’s a busy time of year for parents and their kids as little league season kicked off this weekend. But how much is too much when it comes to protecting their still-growing bodies?

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke went straight to the experts at UR Medicine’s Orthopedic Center in Henrietta. Doctors there have always seen young athletes who’ve pushed it too far, but in recent years, there’s been a whole lot more of them.

Connor Osier loves football and basketball, but he’s best at baseball. In the fall, he’s going D-1 to the University of Houston as a pitcher. He didn’t get to this moment without hard work and discipline, especially when it comes to how often he’s throwing the ball.

“There’s a limit depending on which month, it’s like 100 or so, I usually stay below there with my own pitch count from my [soon-to-be] college has some counts they’d like me to stay under,” he explains. “Our coaches are always like, we’re going to be a hard 85 today, no more.”

Conner Lorenz, a certified trainer who runs the fitness science program at UR Medicine and works with elite athletes like Connor, emphasized that pitch counts are important, but parents need to keep track of their kids’ activity outside of games too.

“Pitch counts are great but how much are they doing outside of the game? How many different teams are they playing for, how many coaches are they seeing? How many pitches are they throwing just in their daily week before they ever get to game week,” Lorenz said.

That’s why parents have to pay close attention to it, “one of the first conversations that we have with parents and even the athletes is volume, that’s such a huge piece, they’ll say, “I need to throw all this or I need to do all that to get to that point and then I’ll worry about my arm health” and a lot of times it’s too late,” Lorenz warns. 

When young athletes push it too far, they end up meeting Dr. Michael Maloney, the chief of sports medicine at UR Medicine.

“We’re seeing younger and younger athletes, focusing on just one sport and that means they’re using those same muscle groups all the time, they’re not changing it up, they’re not allowing their bodies to accommodate and grow,” Dr. Maloney said.

Some kids as young as middle school and their parents have even asked Dr. Maloney if they should get Tommy John surgery because they’ve heard it may help them throw harder.

“It’s just not realistic to think that you’re going to have this reconstruction surgery and you’re going to now throw harder, it’s just not a reality,” he said. “They come from all over because they hear the same thing.”

His best advice is to be like Connor — play more than one sport for as long as you can while deciding what you truly love and taking care of your body as best you can.

“It does make you a better athlete to do another sport and to train another muscle group and socially, you’re exposed to different people,” Dr. Maloney said.

UR Medicine is looking for baseball and softball players ages 13-18 for a shoulder study they are conducting. Email for information.

A.I. assisted with the formatting of this story. Click here to see how WHEC News 10 uses A.I.