Fastpitch Softball Injuries: Epidemiology, Biomechanics, and Injury Prevention

Brian T. Feeley, Sonali E. Feeley, Caitlin C. Chambers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose of Review: Fastpitch softball is one of the most popular sports among youth and high school female athletes. Despite some similarities to baseball, key differences between the two sports result in different injury patterns, and there is comparatively less literature describing injury epidemiology in fastpitch softball. The purpose of this review is to describe the epidemiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention efforts in regards to fastpitch softball injury with a particular focus on underhand pitching. Recent Findings: The injury rate in softball is relatively low and extended time loss injuries in particular are uncommon. Lower extremity injuries are more common overall in softball, but pitchers more often suffer upper extremity injury. Pitchers account for a relatively small proportion of all injuries recorded, but represent a similarly small subset of team rosters, with most teams carrying only a few pitchers in total. The underhand pitching motion exerts significant glenohumeral distractive forces and high stress across the biceps-labrum complex. Core and lower extremity strengthening play an important role in injury prevention for softball pitchers and position players. Fatigue and number of games pitched are tied to increased strength deficiencies and pain in fastpitch softball pitchers, yet pitch count limits are not employed in any major fastpitch softball leagues. Summary: While overall injury incidence is low in fastpitch softball players, the potential for overuse injury in pitchers in particular is noteworthy and not nearly as scrutinized as within the baseball community. Critical longitudinal tracking of softball injuries at varying levels of play would be helpful to better understand the sport’s injury risk. There are currently no formal pitch count limits enforced in a majority of fastpitch softball leagues. Core and lower extremity strengthening, pre-season conditioning, and monitoring of pitchers for signs of fatigue may be helpful in injury prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2024.

Keywords

  • Fastpitch softball
  • Female athlete
  • Pitching injury
  • Softball injury

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review

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