USciences Athletes Explore Common Shoulder Injuries in Pitchers
Shoulder injuries are common among baseball pitchers, but are they introduced by chronic overuse or predisposing factors? University of the Sciences athletes, Jay Andrews ESWM’14 and John McConville ESWM’16, teamed up off the field to investigate the link between flexibility imbalances and shoulder and back injuries among eight pitchers on the USciences baseball team.
“This study was designed to help establish the predisposing factors to injury,” said Andrews. “By identifying those factors, athletes will be able to enjoy participating in sports for as long as they wish, and minimize their risk for injury.”
As members of the USciences’ Devils baseball team, Andrews and McConville are not far removed from the devastating effects of sports-related injuries. In fact, in his first year at USciences, McConville experienced a severe tear in his shoulder joint, as well as partial tears in the surrounding muscles. His own sports injury experience, paired with his academic interests, inspired him and his teammate to closely explore shoulder injuries in ball players.
Using a goniometer – an instrument that measures an angle and allows an object to be rotated to a precise angular position – Andrews and McConville performed shoulder flexibility tests on each participant in early February, and continued to monitor the players’ shoulders throughout their season. This data provided insight on the rotation differences of the pitchers’ dominant and non-dominant arms, which helped pinpoint the cause of common injuries seen in other players.
Here’s how their study worked: Participants provided their personal backgrounds outlining past injuries and pitching experiences, and continued to update the statuses of their injuries and levels of soreness through frequent surveys. At the end of the season, participants were given a final flexibility test to provide a standard database for internal and external range of motion in baseball pitchers.
“Our goal was to find the physiological reason behind these types of sports-related shoulder injuries and use that information to help baseball pitchers at all levels avoid injury,” said McConville. “Our hope is that trainers use our evidence to put pitchers on programs designed to achieve similar flexibility in the non-dominant arm, and work to maintain that balance as a method of injury prevention.”
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