May 1, 1995
Media Contact: John Cramer
Phone: (410) 955-1534

Major league baseball pitchers may be at increased risk for shoulder and elbow injuries this spring because of playing time lost to the players strike, according to a Johns Hopkins researcher. The strike eliminated the last part of the 1994 season and reduced this year's spring training by about half.

Many athletes in various sports work out consistently during the off-season to maintain their strength, endurance, flexibility and skills, but some are less diligent, says Edward McFarland, M.D., director of sports medicine at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

In a study done while at the University of Florida, McFarland and the team trainer found that most arm injuries in all players occurred in the preseason and first month of the season, suggesting that some players overthrow after the winter break to try to reach their peak performance quickly.

Pitchers who have not stayed in shape in the off-season -- an extended off-season for major leaguers due to the strike -- may be more susceptible to shoulder and elbow injuries if they try to make up for lost time too quickly, says McFarland. Tendinitis in any athlete in any sport occurs when large increases in stress occur too quickly.

"Pitchers from Little League to the Major Leagues have to be careful not to overthrow, especially before the season and in the early part of the season or they may increase their risk of injury," he says.

Since 1992, researchers at Hopkins and the Bennett Institute for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation have been studying the biomechanics of pitching. They are trying to determine what makes good pitching, what causes pitching injuries and how best to prevent and treat pitching injuries.

For more information, please call me at (410) 955-1534.

-- JHMI --
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