Throwing a baseball or softball is one of the most demanding motions on the human body in sports. For each throw, the athlete generates high levels of energy in the arm and body to accelerate the baseball and softball to a high velocity. Just as it is important to understand proper biomechanics to improve performance, it is important to understand the stresses placed on the throwing shoulder and elbow by the throwing process.
• Teach young athletes to be mindful of how their bodies feel. Pain is the first sign of a problem, and athletes of all ages need to pay close attention to any type of muscle twinge, tightening, or burning sensation.
• Coaches should carefully observe their pitchers’ techniques. Success on the field may be fleeting if the pitches ultimately are damaging a young player’s shoulder.
• Conditioning and strengthening exercises are most effective after mechanics are learned and put into action. If possible, begin a conditioning program at least a month before the season begins. A basic stretching regimen should be used before a player ever picks up a baseball.
• Players should start with short tosses and gradually work up to throwing the ball a greater distance. Increasing the velocity should be the final step.
• If the arm region is sore or tight, apply ice to the area for 10-15 minutes to help diminish the amount of blood that might otherwise leak into the muscle. When there is microscopic tearing of the muscle tissue, blood is leaking into the surrounding muscular tissue, causing pain and muscle spasms. Using ice will help reduce the pain, spasms, and inflammation associated with this condition.
• Before age 10, only fast ball and change-up should be permitted.
This information was written by University Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group with eight locations in New River Valley, Virginia. University PT is THE choice for outstanding sports rehabilitation, physical therapy and occupational therapy services. For more information click here.