Get Tommy John Velo Gains Without Surgery


30% of coaches, 51% of players, and 37% of parents believe Tommy John surgery should be performed in the absence of elbow injury to enhance performance.

(Ahmad, et al.)

I was shocked by this statistic… Baseball players have been known to do some crazy stuff in the name of performance, but this one takes the cake…

While I would like to think the perception around Tommy John Surgery has changed some since this study was published in 2012, I have talked with several players and coaches who still consider Tommy John as a way to increase velo.

I hope I can clear this up, once and for all…

Tommy John Surgery by itself will not enhance your performance.

In fact, you have a 12-16 month recovery period, so while you may be 1-year older, you are in fact 1-year younger in training age – this can be detrimental to a young player looking to make the next level.

So why is this myth so widespread?

The media is somewhat to blame. They tend to sensationalize the players who come back from injury and perform really well, while the players that don’t come back to full capacity are never heard about again.

Primary surgery has to be avoided at all costs, as revisions have significantly lower rates of return. Workloads, fastball usage and accuracy are all decreased after surgery and this trend can be prolonged by more than one season. Catchers have the worst return to play statistics out of all positions, so the catching population should also be diligent with assessing throwing arm strength.

But some players do come back stronger. Why?

Well…The answer is in their rehab.

For the player who needed Tommy John, there was a mechanical breakdown that caused that injury. It may have been too many pitches, it may have been poor mechanics, or possibly increased torque from certain pitches. Regardless of the reason, there was a chink in the armor that was exposed.

Then, following Tommy John Surgery, rehabilitation fixed the breakdown, as the training corrected mechanical weaknesses that lead to surgery in the first place.

Now with nothing to hold them back, they can push their performance to the next level.

No time off, no risk of a failed surgery, just continuous performance gains.

If you’d like all the gains without the surgery, then the pre-season (right now) is the best time to start preventative training your weak links.

For baseball players, the strength issues to be addressed are weaknesses of the decelerating muscles and the scap stabilizers.

Specifically, a 5-year MLB study showed pre-season shoulder weakness was significantly linked to in-season arm injuries. On top of that, weakness in those same muscles is the one thing keeping you from throwing harder.

So if you really want to take your game to the next level this season, give up hope on the bionic arm implant and start making your arm stronger. This will allow you to throw more and throw harder without running into season ending injury.

References

Return-to-Play and Competitive Outcomes
After Ulnar Collateral Ligament
Reconstruction Among Baseball Players
A Systematic Review
Stephen J. Thomas, *PhD, ATC, Ryan W. Paul, BS, Adam B. Rosenk, PhD, ATC, Sam J. Wilkins, k MS, Joseph Scheidt, {BS, John D. Kelly IV, MD}, and Ryan L. Crotin, PhD, CSCS
Investigation performed at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Effect of Ulnar Collateral Ligament
Reconstruction on Pitch Accuracy, Velocity, and Movement in Major League
Baseball Pitchers
Branden McKnight, MD, Nathanael D. Heckmann, MD, Xiao T. Chen, BA, Kevork Hindoyan, MD, J. Ryan Hill, MD, Graham Goldbeck, BA, Reza Omid, MD, George F. “Rick” Hatch III, MD, and Timothy P. Charlton, MD
Investigation performed at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California, USA

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