Avoid a UCL Injury and the Dreaded Tommy John Surgery | STACK

Avoid a UCL Injury and the Dreaded Tommy John Surgery

April 28, 2012 | Al King

Must See Baseball Videos

San Fransisco Giants closer Brian Wilson had his second Tommy John surgery last week, and he'll be out of commission until at least halfway through next season. Pitchers often hear about the devastating ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury and the difficult surgery that follows, but many are unaware of the steps they should be taking to avoid this season-ending injury.

Minimize your risk for a UCL injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery through:

Proper Warm-Up

Your coach may preach proper warm-up at every practice, but it's worth repeating: a solid stretching and warm-up session drastically reduces the risk of injury, especially if you're a pitcher. Young pitchers run a higher risk of straining their ligaments since they typically try to compete at a level higher than their body's maturity. Proper stretching minimizes that risk. Take your time, especially on your shoulders, forearms and wrists.

Check out two dynamic baseball warm-ups--from the University of Georgia baseball team and MVP pitcher Justin Verlander.

Proper Form

The pitching motion already puts incredible strain on the elbow and shoulder. Don't compound the damage with improper form. Pay close attention to the tweaks your coach makes to your delivery, and never sacrifice form on the mound. Learn more about pitching form and posture from Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum.


Pitch Count

Most experts recommend monitoring pitch count for pitchers as young as eight to 10 years old. Although it may seem silly to come out of a game before your arm gets tired, stopping after a preset number of pitches will help your body heal properly between outings. Former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis has an excellent sample pitch count chart for various age groups on his website.

If you're currently healthy, follow these simple tips to reduce your chance of a season-ending UCL injury. If you have suffered a UCL injury and you're recovering from Tommy John surgery, don't despair; today's pitchers often thrive after the surgery. For evidence, look no further than Philip Humber, the Chicago White Sox hurler who recently threw a perfect game. Humber underwent Tommy John surgery before his career even began.

Photo: Getty Images

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?

Where The Best Athletes Get Better

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

How to Train With Shin Splints

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy