13 Year old with elbow pain


#1

My 13 year old plays at a high level of travel ball. We live north so we always take 3 months off straight during the winter, which isn’t very hard. He started throwing once a week in January, and by mid February twice a week. From 60’ he is sitting at 70-72 mph, so he does have some pop. Right now he throws on Sunday and Wednesdays. He does band work before and after throwing. Last night he complained of elbow pain, just about an inch above the inside of the elbow. He has only thrown off a mound 3 times now. Just wondering if this is arm saying something is seriously wrong, or just that its sore from getting work in again.


#2

Very sorry to hear about your son’s arm problem.

I’m leaning toward this.

I think you’re following excellent advice to take off the full three months of Oct, Nov and Dec. But throwing just once per week in January means he only threw 4 times all month, right?

I would prefer to see him throwing a little more last month (10-12 minutes of throwing 3-4 times per week, at a minimum), and then continue to increase the amount of throwing in February as well.

That’s why I’m thinking it might be just some early season soreness – he’s only had ~10 days of throwing before throwing three bullpens.

Check with a doctor and let us know how he does on the path to returning to full health.


#3

My thoughts …

  1. I agree with Steven Ellis. Throwing once a week during January, after taking off three full months (a very good thing), seems light. He may have returned to throwing full velocity too soon. By comparison, my 13-year-old son took 5 months off last year, from mid-July to mid-December. That was when we started throwing 2-3 times per week, from gradually increasing distances each week: 20’/30’/45’ the first week; 20’/30’/45’/60’ the second and third weeks; 20’/30’/45’/60’/70’ the fourth week; 20’/30’/45’/60’/70’/90’ the fifth week (it is his first season on the 90’ diamond); and, after that, we added throws across the diamond, which is about 127’. He joined his travel team in early February (after basketball ended), and he’s taken to the larger diamond very well.

  2. I’m leery of band work for 13-year-olds. A lot depends on their physical maturity. My doctor friend advises against it.

  3. Elbow pain can be many things, from minor to serious. Almost always, though, doctors will recommend taking some time off from throwing. I would have your son evaluated by an orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine. If there is no pain when you press on the medial epicondyle, but above it, it could be a pronator muscle. Is this your son’s first year on the 60’6" mound? Am curious, because I know of several cases of kids sustaining arm injuries when they jumped from the smaller diamond to the 60’6" mound at 13. Because my son is only in 7th Grade, and so has this season and next season (8th Grade) before High School, he won’t be pitching this year from 60’6", but working on his batting and fielding. We’ll do some bullpens on the side from 54’, and return to pitching in games next year.


#4

Very good point.

I think @south_paw’s interval throwing plan going from 20 feet to 90 feet over 5 weeks is an excellent progression.


#5

At 13U we play 54/80. Because of his travel ball, he is not playing “middle school ball”. I think that would be to much on the arm, as he would never get a day off, plus the “burn out” effect is something I have tried to always think about. When he does band work, it is only for stretching purposes, never “arm building”. Only throwing 4 times in January, when you say it like that, I realize wow, I definately went wrong there.

We start with light drill work from 15’ away, and gradually work our way back to 60’. By the time we are done throwing he has thrown 30 times in drill work, and 10-15 pitches from 60’. You try to tell them to slow down, gradually let the arm warm up, but you know how it is when a kid throws hard, they just want to go all out, hopefully this opens his eyes a bit. I am going to take him to a sports therapist Monday if he has pain again after throwing Sunday. This is the first time he has had pain, so I just want to be safe. Thank you so much for your thoughts, and I will keep you updated.


#6

These “Little League Elbow” injuries are tricky. There can be pain one day and gone a few days later, only to resurface a week later. They often resurface even after several weeks of rest. They are very hard to resolve during the baseball season, as most kids return to throwing too soon.

When there is pain in the elbow area, there usually is some sort of injury. The risk of throwing too soon after feeling pain is that the underlying injury will be aggravated. I would strongly recommend seeing a sports doctor before he throws again. If he is going to throw again before seeing a doctor, he should basically do a pre-season style of throwing program, starting with short and easy throws and over time gradually moving into long and hard throws. If the pain recurs at any point during his return to throwing, he should be shut down and taken to a sports doctor.

Don’t mess around. His arm health at 13 is far more important than whether he pitches again next week or in three months.


#7

This is a tendon/ligament injury, not muscle. Connective tissue have poor blood supply and are very hard to heal. As “south_paw states its very tricky.” Dont treat it like muscle soreness. Rest, heat, and electrical stimulation is whats needed. Then a slow return. No more curve balls.


#8

Be vigilant. Lots of younger pitchers will try turning their wrists to create movement. This is very bad on the tendons running to your elbow. Wrist should snap downward but not turn.