Spring Training is finally here and with that comes elbow injuries and “Return to Throw” programs. Bauerfeind was with PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society) for Spring Training and found out many athletic trainers are now using the Bauerfeind Sports Elbow Brace as part of their return to throw protocols.
What is a return to throwing program? A return to throw program is a regimented, structured rehabilitation program to progressively and safely return players to throwing after an injury or surgery.
Programs vary by doctor or athletic trainer but the basic concepts are the same: Players cannot start to throw until they have full range of motion and are pain-free. Starting off slowly with a set number of pitches allowed at a short distance, the pitcher or fielder has mandatory days of rest and must incorporate stretching and strengthening programs along with the throwing program.
If the player remains pain free, they progress to the next stage of longer-distance throwing and greater pitch count. When any pain or swelling returns, the player drops down a level and slowly builds back up as tolerated. This ensures a gradual, safe progression to resuming full function.
How the Bauerfeind Sports Elbow Brace assists players in their return to throw program:
First, the medical-grade compression of the knit reduces inflammation which in turn reduces pain. Remember, players are not allowed to progress to the next stage if pain is present so compression is vital to keep swelling and inflammation to a minimum.
The Sports Elbow Brace allows full natural range of motion, but the guide wires embedded in the brace help to prevent hyper-extension and gives a cushioning effect at end range to stop the bones from “slamming” together. This reduces forces on the elbow that can cause further inflammation, pain and swelling.
Lastly, the compression enhances body awareness, or what scientists and healthcare professionals call “proprioception”. The increased proprioception means the elbow is “talking” more to the brain, translating to feelings of more confidence and awareness of what your elbow is doing during every pitch.
This last part is especially important as returning to throw can be scary for a player. As they progress, they can dial back on the tension of the brace and slowly wean off from needing the hyper-extension control, then continue wearing it for the benefit of the knit or gradually progress to no brace at all.
As the official brace of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Association, Bauerfeind is the preferred brand that athletic trainers turn to for their players.
“At first I figured… a brace is a brace, a sleeve is a sleeve, but that could not be further from the truth,” said Brian Ball, Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Chicago White Sox. “Bauerfeind products, reliability, compression and comfort go hand-in-hand. And trust me, that’s not always true with other products.”
By: Erin Grigsby, PT
Bauerfeind Physical Therapist
& Medical Education Specialist