Relationship Between Pitch Volume and Subjective Report of Injury in High School Female Fast-Pitch Softball Pitchers

Brittany Gooch, Bradley S. Lambert, Haley Goble, Patrick C. McCulloch, Corbin Hedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The relationship between pitch volume and injury is well-represented within baseball literature. However, the impact of softball pitch volume on injury epidemiology is limited. Hypothesis: The purpose was to determine if increased pitch volumes in high school–aged softball pitchers are related to increased rates of subjectively reported pain/injury. We hypothesized that pitchers with increased volumes would have higher pain/injury rates. Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Level of Evidence: Level 4. Methods: A total of 28 female softball pitchers (aged 14-18 years) completed an online survey of questions pertaining to pitching history, pitch volume, and subjective report of pain or injury in the back, shoulder, and elbow. An independent-samples t test was used to (1) compare pitch volumes in those who reported pain in individual body regions (shoulder, elbow, back) compared with those who did not; (2) compare pitch volumes in those who reported pain in 0 or 1 of the regions of interest compared with 2 or 3 regions; and (3) compare the reported percentage of the past year that players reported playing through pain in players who averaged >85 compared with <85 pitches per game. Chi-square analysis was used to compare those who pitched either >85 or <85 pitches per game with regard to frequency of shoulder pain, elbow pain, back pain, seeking of medical attention, and actual injury diagnosis. Type I error was set at α = 0.05. Results: Weekly and yearly pitch counts were higher in those reporting pain or injury (YES) than those who did not (NO) in the shoulder (pitches per week: NO = 219 ± 35; YES = 429 ± 101; P = 0.027) (pitches per year: NO = 8876 ± 946; YES = 19,195 ± 4944; P = 0.022) and back (pitches per week: NO = 188 ± 16; YES = 426 ± 90; P = 0.014) (pitches per year: NO = 8334 ± 793; YES = 18,252 ± 4340; P = 0.027). Similar results were observed for those with pain or injury reported in 2 or 3 regions compared with 0 or 1 regions (pitches per week: NO = 220 ± 38; YES = 414 ± 95; P = 0.039) (pitches per year: NO = 8765 ± 1010; YES = 18,661 ± 4623; P = 0.028). Those reporting shoulder pain or injury also reported higher pitch counts per game (NO = 71.4 ± 5.2; YES = 83 ± 4; P = 0.049), and those reporting back pain also reported playing more games per week (NO = 2.7 ± 0.2; YES = 5.2 ± 1.1; P = 0.034). Those with pitch counts of >85/game were more than twice as likely to see a physician regarding pain/injury (P = 0.027) and reported playing through pain a higher percentage of the year (>85, 49.3% ± 10%; <85, 25.2% ± 6%; P < 0.05). Conclusion: High pitching volumes commonly prevalent in high school–aged softball pitchers may be associated with increased pain/injury and appear related to cumulative volume. Clinical Relevance: This study provides recommendations for cumulative pitch volume guidelines in softball pitchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSports Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • back
  • elbow
  • overuse
  • pitching
  • shoulder
  • softball

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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