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By Tom Sutton, DPT Student

The following is a study that was published in International Journal of Sports Medicine that researched the relationship between the strength of the rotator cuff and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears. There are a variety of reasons why baseball players of all ages, from youth to the majors, injure their arms. The results of this study found that baseball players who had a torn UCL had deficits in strength of the rotator cuff vs. players with a healthy UCL.

This study shows that it is very important to make sure the baseball player, whether a position player or pitcher, has adequate strength of the rotator cuff musculature. Muscles can act as dynamic stabilizers and ligaments only prevent unwanted movement. With that, a strengthening program for the rotator cuff may play a role in preventing UCL tears in baseball players.

BASEBALL PLAYERS WITH ULNAR COLLATERAL LIGAMENT TEARS DEMONSTRATE DECREASED ROTATOR CUFF STRENGTH COMPARED TO HEALTHY CONTROLS   Garrison JC, Johnston C, Conway JEGarrison JC, Johnston C, Conway JE

In a study performed by Garrison et al, the investigators researched the possible relationship of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears in baseball players with deficits in rotator cuff muscular strength. The study consisted of 33 players who had been diagnosed with a UCL tear and 33 players that were healthy and without UCL tears. All participants were not exclusively pitchers, as both groups were matched by position. All participants had baseball experience at the high school and/or collegiate level and volunteered for the study.ijspt

The hypothesis of the study stated that baseball players with a torn UCL would have decreased isometric strength in external rotation (ER) and internal rotation (IR) at 0 degrees glenohumeral (GH) abduction. All participants’ strength was evaluated on both throwing and non-throwing arms.

In closing, the study demonstrated that the group of players with a torn UCL showed a great decrease in strength on the throwing and non-throwing arm in both ER and IR when compared to the healthy control group.

img_7501  Blog Post written by Tom Sutton, DPT Student at the University of St. Augustine.  Tom is currently in his final Clinical Rotation with me at Catz Physical Therapy Institute.