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Proposed Baseball Change Could Increase Arm Injuries

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Monday, 16 May 2016 01:05 PM

A proposed change to make Major League Baseball games more exciting by speeding up the pitches could lead to more arm injuries, researchers warn.

Major League Baseball (MLB) is proposing speeding up the game by reducing the time between pitches, a change that would lessen the time that the arm needs to recover, according to U.K. researchers.

Using a computer model to predict muscle fatigue, researchers simulated baseball games for 72 American League starting pitchers from the 2014 season. They simulated pitching performance using both the players’ typical rest time between pitches and the enforced 20-second limit. The simulation showed that using the pitch clock caused greater arm fatigue –seven per cent more. While the average time between pitches is currently 22.6 seconds, even a small change could have a major impact, they say.

Increasing muscle fatigue, which is already known to be one of the primary causes of injury to pitchers, can reduce the natural stiffness of the elbow joint, leading to greater strain on the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, the ligament that is torn and repaired during the so-called “Tommy John Surgery.”

Faced with lower television ratings and weary fans, the MLB has struggled with the length of the average game, which has stretched from 2.85 hours in 2004 to 3.13 hours in 2014.

Still, the researchers question the wisdom of rushing the game at the cost of a player’s career, says Michael Sonne, an expert in ergonomics and post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University.

“In a league where hundreds of millions of dollars are lost in a year to injury, every effort should be made to control known risk factors related to injury. That includes allowing for appropriate rest time between pitches,” says Sonne of the study, which appears in The Journal of Sports Sciences.


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Changing Major League Baseball rules to allow for faster pitches could result in more players being injured, a new study says.
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2016-05-16
Monday, 16 May 2016 01:05 PM
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