Tips for keeping young pitchers off injury list

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Injuries are on the rise for baseball pitchers at all levels. And doctors say the patients going under the knife are getting younger and younger. (WPVI)

Injuries are on the rise for baseball pitchers at all levels.

And doctors say the patients going under the knife are getting younger and younger.

America's favorite pastime is in full swing, with area players of all ages back on the diamond, and pitchers throwing strikes from the mound.

For 16-year-old Peyton Birch, hard work is paying off.

"Much better," says pitching coach Chuck Bushbeck of Full Armor Training, as he watches Peyton throw. "Just keep the ankle down," he notes.

Like many players, Peyton wanted to pitch because he says, "I just like being in control. It's like a chess match really," say Peyton.

But unlike chess, pitching comes with a high risk for injury.

Jeff Extor, a 14-year-old who throws in the 80-mile-an-hour range, knows firsthand.

He tells us he started having sharp elbow pain.

Both players now work with Bushbeck at his facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

He says the key to preventing injuries isn't just about limiting pitch count.

It has a lot to do with proper body mechanics.

"And that involves the kinetic chain on how you throw a baseball properly where there's no extra strain or force to the elbow or shoulder area," he says.

Jeff had been throwing with just his upper body and arm. But now he says, "I use more of my body, my lower body, my core," he says. "The arm is just an extension."

Jeff says making this adjustment eliminated the pain.

Bushbeck says a good rule of thumb is: If a player's arm hurts during or after, chances are his mechanics are off, and the more he throws, the greater the chance for injury.

"Everyone wants to throw harder and we're throwing more often, but the big thing is if they're not throwing correctly, we tell our kids we don't want you throwing one pitch," Bushbeck says firmly.

Jeff and Peyton take Bushbeck's words to heart.

They both have aspirations of playing baseball well into the future, so staying healthy is key.

For more information on Full Armor Training, click here.
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