How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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Ballpark Shoes can look NEW again

Do you have any shoes that have gotten super dirty and think they can’t be saved?  Do you dread having to buy your kids more shoes because they are so muddy and hate cleaning them?

Being a mom and coach of baseball, it never fails that my tennis shoes get dirty.  Really dirty… with Red Georgia Clay from the field, or mud, or grass.  Every year I try to have an extra pair of shoes just for the field.

Sometimes it is just not possible to have an extra pair of shoes.  Years ago, my arch collapsed and planters fasciitis set in, so it became imperative to have good shoes, especially when I am on my feet in the dugout or running drills with the boys on the field.  These shoes are so expensive, I was forced to find a way to clean them.

My favorite cleaning trick is whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush!  It works wonders on solid leather tennis shoes.

If your shoes are solid leather, when you rinse them, the inside of the shoes will not get wet.  Look at the difference when I scrubbed one side of my shoe with the whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  These were my “baseball shoes” from a year ago, so this is not fresh dirt…it still came off and looks like NEW.

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Recently, due to new problems in my feet, I was forced to get a different kind of tennis shoe.  They have mesh on the sides and top, so when I tried to wash the soles using the toothbrush and toothpaste, the inside of the shoe got wet.  Not good.  I had to find a new way to clean them….

Perfect Example:  Yesterday, the family and I went to the ballfield to practice hitting and fielding.  I love to get out there with them and run around.  We have had so much rain here, the outfield was like a marsh pit.  The soles of my shoes got so packed with mud (since they are my only athletic shoes now) I had to do something.

20160222_082541I scraped off as much dirt outside as I could, but still my shoes were a mess.  I found 2 Foil Lasagna pans in my kitchen that I had never used, and put them to work.  Don’t worry, I won’t be using them now for Lasagna!  I put some hot water (just enough to cover the bottom) and a squirt of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent.  I swished around the detergent until it produced some bubbles and put a shoe in each pan.  I was careful not to get the water too high in the pan so the inside of my shoes would get wet.

I soaked them for about 20 minutes and was pleased to find that most of the dirt had come off and out of those pesky little grooves on the sole of the shoe.  I still used my toothbrush to scrub out the dirt in those tiny places.  My shoes were so dirty and packed with field dirt (mud really) that my shoes required a second soak.  Overall, I am pleased with the results.  I was able to remove about 99% of it.  Not bad since my shoes were really bad off.

 

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I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  The bottom of my shoes were packed with wet field dirt.

What you will need:

  • An old tshirt to wear because if you are using any brush to scrub, there is a good chance it’s going to splatter
  • For good solid Leather shoes, you will need a spare tube of Whitening Toothpaste and an old toothbrush: Please don’t use the same tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth with.  This tube of toothpaste will be declared, “For Cleaning Only” as will the toothbrush.  Eek! Lol!
  • Two Foil Lasagna pans that you can find in any grocery store. I like them because they are bendable and you can bend the pan to get to the parts of the shoe that need it most.
  • Paper Towels
  • HOT water. Fill it with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to the desired height to surround the sole of the shoe.
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent. I added a squirt in each pan and stirred with my fingers to produce the bubbles.  This solution will break up the dirt in the little grooves of the bottom of the shoe.
  • A toothbrush. A great tool to use for those tiny, hard to reach places.
  • After scraping as much dirt off outside that you can, let the sole of the shoes soak for about 10-15 minutes, check and see what dirt has been loosened or falling off. My shoes were so bad, I needed a second soak.  I would not recommend leaving your nice shoes in for a super long period of time as it is not good for the rubber soles.

My kids have always appreciated when I can work on their dirty, yucky, shoes and give them new life.  As they get older, it is something they can work on, too.  With a lot of desire, and a little bit of effort, it is always rewarding to make something feel and look new again.