3 Things Every Pitcher Should Know About Their Shoulder

3 Things Every Pitcher Should Know About Their Shoulder

When you’re a pitcher, you have one main goal — to throw the ball hard and strike the batter out. You throw a lot of pitches to keep up your skills in both practice and your games. Over time, this has a definitive impact on your shoulder joint. If you’re not careful, shoulder issues may keep you out of the game.

At Orthopaedic Specialists, our team of experts focus on several orthopaedic conditions, including shoulder problems. If you’re involved in sports and are suffering from shoulder pain or injury, Dr. Brandon Downs has the knowledge and expertise to help your shoulder heal and avoid further issues.

Anatomy of your shoulder

There are many types of joints in your body, including ball-and-socket joints. Your shoulder is one of these types of joints, and consists of three bones — your collar bone, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade.

Your glenoid is the socket in which your upper arm bone fits. Your labrum surrounds the glenoid, and is a strong band of connective tissue. The labrum provides stability to your shoulder, and makes the socket deeper to hold your arm in place.

The shoulder also relies on a capsule made of thick ligaments to help your upper arm stay in the socket. It keeps your arm securely attached to your shoulder blade. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that form into tendons surrounding the head of your upper arm bone.

There are many other muscles and tendons in your back that help keep your shoulder joint in good working condition. Specific muscles form what’s known as your shoulder girdle. 

How pitching affects your shoulder

When you’re involved in sports that rely heavily on your shoulder, the results aren’t always ideal. Overhead pitching puts intense strain on the shoulder joint, especially when you don’t take enough time to rest.

When you are involved in pitching, it’s important to understand how this repetitive motion affects the overall health of your shoulder. This knowledge may help you avoid injury and allow you to recognize the direct impact on this joint. Here are three important facts you should know about your shoulder:

1. Throwing pain is often caused by your rotator cuff

If you're having pain in your shoulder from throwing the ball, there’s a good chance your rotator cuff is involved. Inflammation occurs in the rotator cuff due to overuse of the muscles and tendons. 

2. Pitcher’s shoulder is a real injury

Pitcher’s shoulder is the name of the overuse injury that affects your rotator cuff. It’s common in baseball and other sports that require repetitive overhead motions, such as tennis and volleyball.

3. Two phases of the pitching motion have an impact

There are several components to the pitching motion, but only two impact your shoulder joint. These include the late-cocking phase and the follow-through phase. 

The late-cocking phase is necessary to add speed to your pitch, but it has a profound effect on your shoulder joint. A lot of stress placed on the shoulder ligaments allows them to loosen, creating instability.

The follow-through phase impacts your shoulder joint after you release the ball and your rotator cuff decelerates your arm. This puts significant stress on these muscles and often leads to pain and other inflammation after a while.

Preventing shoulder injuries in baseball

Although injuries happen, you can take steps to keep your shoulders as healthy as possible. Preventing shoulder injuries is sometimes achievable with the following recommendations:

Get enough rest

Overuse is one of the primary factors with pitching and shoulder problems. Rest is important with any activity, especially when you’re a pitcher. This allows your muscles and tendons to relax and repair themselves.

Proper throwing mechanics

Improper technique when you’re throwing can definitely lead to shoulder injuries. Take the time to learn the correct way to throw a pitch; you’ll be thankful in the long-run.

Build strength

Strengthening muscles in your shoulders and back keeps your joints healthy and stable. The more strength you have, the less likely you are to become fatigued, which could cause injury to your shoulder.

Don’t play through pain

If you feel a twinge of pain in your shoulder, don’t continue pitching through the pain — something may be wrong with your body. When you feel pain, stop what you’re doing and seek treatment if the pain doesn’t go away.

If you’re suffering shoulder pain from playing sports, call one of our six convenient offices in the Nashville, Tennessee area today, or request an appointment on our website.

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