Tommy John Surgery | Prevention Tips & How to Maintain a Healthy Arm

It’s a phrase that can make a pitcher’s heart skip a beat: you need Tommy John surgery. With the rise of elbow and UCL injuries in the past decade, Tommy John surgery has become a household name for those involved with the game of baseball. If you have a child who plays baseball, chances are you’ve been made aware of the dangers that too many innings (hello, pitch count) can have on a youth athlete’s arm that’s still developing.

Where Does the Problem Start?

The problem stems from overuse of the muscles and tendons surrounding the elbow. Pitchers engage in a repetitive throwing motion that puts a lot of stress on the elbow and shoulder. After throwing, the arm is fatigued and needs to recover before the next outing or practice. But, you aren’t an athlete to sit in the dugout and you’re not injured yet, so you go out and throw again. This situation creates the perfect storm for an overuse injury.

So what can you to do to help prevent Tommy John surgery? Focus on recovery! During training, practice, games, etc. the muscles in your body are breaking down. What you do in between your outings and training can have a big impact on how your arm feels and ultimately, your ability to perform on the field.

Tommy John Surgery Prevention

1. Get your rest and hydrate

Sleep is a critical part of helping regenerate and recover muscle tissue. For children or teenagers, aim for 8-12 hours of sleep each night, depending on their age. Adults don’t need quite as much, so between 7-9 hours is ideal. If you’ve tweaked something or aren’t feeling 100%, try increasing the number of hours you’re getting at night.

Your muscles and tissues also desperately need water to maintain proper function. Staying hydrated after workouts is an essential part of keeping your body healthy.

2. Improve arm health with Marc Pro

The Marc Pro device is used heavily around all levels of baseball – from youth athletes to the top pitchers in Major League Baseball.

tommy john surgery prevention

All are using for the same reasons: arm health and recovery. The goal with using Marc Pro is to reduce or eliminate soreness before your next outing or practice. For most, you can expect your arm to feel stronger when you go to throw the very next day. It’s also common for pitchers to use the Marc Pro before long toss or warmup to help prepare their arm for the load of activity ahead.

In addition to being in all 30 Major League Baseball training rooms, Marc Pro products are used by elite baseball trainers and facilities throughout the country. Eric Cressey and Cressey Sports Performance are heavy proponents. Driveline Baseball athletes use specific Marc Pro pad placements immediately post-throwing, and countless others including Tread Athletics, Wasserman Strength, and Texas Baseball Ranch incorporate Marc Pro into their recovery routine.  

How does Marc Pro work?

Marc Pro creates completely non-fatiguing muscle contractions that pump fresh blood into muscles and simultaneously flushes waste from the area. This exchange of nutrients and waste is the foundation of post-workout recovery and is what separates Marc Pro from competitors.

Adding a 30-60-minute session with Marc Pro into your throwing routine ensures you are putting effort into keeping your elbow healthy. Which in turn makes you much less likely to suffer an overuse injury. You can also expect to experience less muscle soreness and stiffness. 

tommy john surgery prevention

Protocols for using Marc Pro

  • Pad placements: elbow specific, whole arm, shoulder specific
  • Make sure your arm is relaxed.
  • Turn up the intensity dial until the contractions are visible, but always comfortable. Turn off and move the pads if it’s not contracting where you want.
  • Use for 30-60 minutes (or longer) after throwing to promote recovery benefits. Use for 10-20 minutes before throwing to get muscles loose and ready.

If you’re throwing often and pushing yourself during training, you’re probably putting yourself at risk for overuse in the elbow. Not taking recovery seriously can lead to potential injury, and worst-case scenario – Tommy John surgery. Along with getting plenty of rest and focusing on hydration, using the Marc Pro device will help keep you on the field and away from the operating table.

Recommended Articles:

Josh Tomlin of the Atlanta Braves on his Injury Prevention Strategy

Eric Cressey Podcast | The Icing Myth and How to Really Maximize Recovery