How Pitchers Can Avoid Tommy John Surgery
Yesterday on the SNY broadcast of the spring training split-squad game between the Mets and Nationals, Ron Darling gave his take on Tommy John surgery, suggesting that “everyone is different” in regard to recovery, and while all pitchers get the same prescription for rehab, that doesn’t mean they’ll all heal exactly the same, because everyone’s “makeup” is different.
No offense to Darling, but at least two things must be considered. First, while every pitcher gets the same rehabilitation prescription after undergoing Tommy John surgery, not all pitchers follow the program (this is often the fault of the teams). Second, while everyone’s DNA is different, so are their pitching deliveries — and some are more dangerous than others. A human being can’t change his DNA, but he CAN change his mechanics. Unfortunately, very few — if any — pitchers make the necessary corrections to their mechanics to avoid harming themselves again.
And therein lies the problem: pitchers — and the teams they pitch for — rarely consider what CAUSED the elbow injury in the first place. It’s chalked up to “bad luck” or some other random, mystical force. Can you imagine what this world would be like today if we took that approach to everything that went wrong in life? Oh wait — we DID do that, about a thousand years ago. We blamed bad weather, famine, plagues, floods, and just about every other negative happening on one god or another. Then, at some point in human history, we discovered — and developed — something called SCIENCE. It’s an amazing thing, this “science” concept — it’s able to explain things, such as why lightning strikes, or why it snows, or why pitchers destroy their elbows.
Here’s the best part — unlike the weather, which is uncontrollable (but explainable), thanks to science, pitchers don’t have to destroy their elbows. Scientists know exactly why pitchers hurt their elbows, and why Tommy John surgery isn’t necessarily the answer for a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Sure, you can take an aspirin or Advil for your headache, but wouldn’t it be even better to prevent the headache in the first place? In most cases, it CAN be done. Similarly, pitchers don’t have to tear their UCL — and those who’ve torn it once, don’t have to tear it again.
But don’t take it from me — I’m just a hack blogging from my parents’ basement. Listen below to qualitative scientist and sport kinesiologist Angel Borrelli explain why pitchers injure their elbows, and how it can be prevented. Oh, and there’s a full follow-up on Jonathon Niese‘s shoulder and elbow injury — and you are NOT going to like what you hear.
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