Upper Extremity Injury Prevention Program

Studies show more than 60 million youth participate in sports annually. Many specialize year-round in a particular sport, with training continuing both in and out-of-season. This specialization often leads to various injuries caused by overuse and trauma, particularly in overhead sports such as baseball, swimming and volleyball.

The Upper Extremity Injury Prevention Program at the Orthopaedic Institute at St. Elizabeth focuses on exercise and injury prevention to help athletes of all types achieve their full potential. The program is the result of a partnership between St. Elizabeth Healthcare, St. Elizabeth Physicians and OrthoCincy Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine that allows us to support student athletes, professionals and weekend warriors alike.



Although many can be treated non-surgically, more significant injuries often require surgery and considerable time away from competition.

An estimated


It affects athletes in sports as diverse as rugby, handball, diving, volleyball, kayaking and baseball.



Rotator cuff injuries account for one-third of those injuries.

Upper Extremity Education

The term “upper extremities” refers to the hands, wrists, arms, elbows, and shoulders. It covers the area from your fingers to your shoulder joint, including bones, muscles, tendons and nerves. An increasing number of athletes will experience injury due to overuse. These injuries are most likely to occur in sports that require the hand to be repeatedly raised above the head to perform a forceful motion. Sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, and tennis are examples of this type of movement.

What is Upper Extremity Injury Prevention?

Upper extremity injuries are often caused by overuse. Overuse injuries may result from musculoskeletal immaturity paired with stress overload caused by repetitive movements. To avoid upper extremity injury, athletes must properly warm up before activity and complete exercises to improve strength and mobility. It’s also essential to ensure the athlete executes proper technique in their movements. The Upper Extremity Injury Prevention Program is designed to decrease injury risk and increase sports performance.

Workouts & Maintenance

Pre-Season Workout

Our specially designed pre-season workout allows athletes to focus on improving fundamental skills such as technique, flexibility, strength and overall conditioning. The Pre-Season Workout Program at St. Elizabeth features three two-week phases spanning six weeks.

In-Season Maintenance

Upper extremity injury prevention is a year-round endeavor that doesn’t change when the season starts or ends. Athletes must preserve muscle strength and flexibility throughout the season to prevent a decline in their physical functioning. Our In-Season Maintenance Program is designed for use as a supplement to an
athlete or team’s practice regime. The program should be completed before or after practice three times a week.

Upper Extremity Exercise Categories

Dynamic Warm-Up

The dynamic warm-up is designed to progressively warm up body temperature by increasing the blood flow to your muscles. This will allow the athlete’s muscles to contract and relax more efficiently and help prevent injury. These exercises will also improve flexibility and prepare your body for the more vigorous activities in the program or sport you’re participating in. After properly completing this phase, you will feel confident that you’ve reduced your risk for injury and are ready to move on to the next step.


Sports that require extensive overhead movements, such as football, volleyball or tennis, also require extraordinary mobility. The repetitive nature and volume of movements make it critical to maintain sufficient mobility to allow the best performance. Our Mobility Program includes stretches to maximize the muscle flexibility and joint mobility needed to keep you in the game.

Stability & Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises are movements performed in a quick, repetitive pattern. For an overhead athlete, these are the types of movements you perform all the time – in practice and during games. Our team trains you to complete these movements with good quality and correct technique. The results? Healthy, stable joints that react and recover quickly to your sport-specific movements.

Scapular & Rotator Cuff Strengthening

Strengthening exercises are critical whether you throw or hit a ball or propel yourself through the water. Without the appropriate amount of strength to perform the movements properly for your sport, injury increases. The exercises in this portion of the program work to ensure that all muscles of the rotator cuff and shoulder joints are working together correctly. Our team helps you increase muscle strength and improve posture and endurance in your arms to lessen injuries due to poor form.

Core & Lower Extremity

Overhead athletes rely on a strong torso to transfer energy and power from lower to upper extremities. This is particularly important for athletes who throw repeatedly. Core exercises function to train the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis, hips and lower back to work together. This leads to better stability and balance for the athlete. These exercises are designed to train your upper and lower body muscles to work in coordination.

Meet The Upper Extremity Injury Prevention Team

Our Upper Extremity Injury Prevention Team is supported by a full team of surgeons from OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine that are leaders in their field.

Their advanced expertise in upper extremity injuries allows the Orthopaedic Institute to provide some of the best orthopedic surgery options in the region. Check out the doctors and surgeons that help bring this expertise to you.