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Education and awareness is key to avoid baseball, softball and other sports injuries.

Amanda Riley, certified athletic trainer with ATI Physical Therapy, treats an injured athlete’s shoulder.

Amanda Riley, certified athletic trainer with ATI Physical Therapy, treats an injured athlete’s shoulder.

The recent official start of baseball season . . . and mild weather . . . has guaranteed that kids everywhere are picking up their bats and gloves, ready to play ball! Whether players are on an organized league, or organizing the neighborhood for backyard play, America’s favorite pastime can sometimes lead to injuries, especially in children.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2010 more than 750,500 Americans were treated in doctors' offices, hospitals, and hospital emergency rooms, for baseball or softball-related injuries. More than 417,400 of the players treated were 18 years old or younger. One of the main culprits: overuse.

“This time of year, we tend to see a lot of shoulder and elbow injuries in baseball and softball,” said Katie Varnado, certified athletic trainer and supervisor with ATI Physical Therapy in Bolingbrook. “The vast majority of these injuries in youth sports are due to overuse and improper throwing mechanics. Both can be prevented by a good stretching and strengthening program, as well as adhering to recommended pitch counts for the various age groups.”

Little League Baseball recommends the following pitch-counts to help protect the arms of young players:

Maximum Pitch Counts

Age: 7-8
Pitches/Game: 50

Age: 9-10
Pitches/Game: 75

Age: 11-12
Pitches/Game: 85

“We are also seeing a rise in year-round training and one-sport athletes, which is contributing to increased overuse injuries not only in baseball and softball players, but youth athletes across the spectrum,” adds Varnado. “Coaches, parents and players must be taught to recognize and report small aches and pains to prevent progression of the injury. Just as important is the need for athletes to incorporate rest and cross-training into their sport of choice to avoid these unnecessary injuries.”

ATI Physical Therapy supports STOP Sports Injuries, a campaign focused on the importance of safety in youth sports, especially with trauma and overuse injuries. Parents, coaches and athletes are encouraged to educate themselves on preventable injuries by accessing several free resources and events. Visit www.STOPSportsInjuries.org for more information.

ATI Physical Therapy offers additional resources to athletes, coaches and parents by supporting local high schools, clubs and universities with on-site athletic training services. ATI Sports Medicine and its certified athletic trainers work at all levels of sports, and are experts at educating, preventing, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating injuries. ATI is one of the largest employers of certified athletic trainers in the country, providing services for over 140 affiliations.

Complimentary injury screenings are available at all ATI Physical Therapy locations.

To schedule an injury screening, or for a clinic near you, please visit www.ATIpt.com.

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