The Throwing Athlete’s Shoulder

WainwrightThe Throwing Athlete’s Shoulder

Surgeons, physical therapists, and Major League Baseball athletic training coaches from literally across the world annually present the latest strategies in preventing and treating injuries in the pitcher’s elbow and shoulder, from little leaguers to pro players.  Today’s article will go over key points from the conference in building a healthy throwing athlete.

First, the rotator cuff, shoulder blade and trunk.  The rotator cuff’s job is to rotate the (ball and socket) shoulder joint but even more importantly to stabilize it under the extreme rotational forces of pitching. Core stability and shoulder blade positioning / mobility are commonly overlooked components of a pitcher’s training program.  Think about a pitcher throwing an upper 90 MPH pitch.  The force to move the ball passes from their feet to their fingers.  The core and shoulder blade must have the ability to stiffen, like a good spring, or there will be an energy leak.  Force will be generated solely from the shoulder, not the entire body and loss of speed and/or injury will occur.

Total shoulder rotational range of motion (TRM) is calculated by measuring the total degrees of internal and external rotation at the shoulder joint with no shoulder blade movement.  The research shows that pitchers with a lack of TRM greater than 5 degrees especially when the loss is internal rotation were 3.5x more likely to end up on the Disabled List during the season.

When a young pitcher’s talent is discovered, please remember the importance of preventing injuries in two ways.  Coaches and parents should visit for pitch count guidelines and stick to them during games AND practice.  And get a quality “functional” physical exam.  At Cumberland Chiropractic and Sports Medicine, no problem is overlooked through the Selective Functional Movement Assessment.  If a problems exists, we fix it with the most effective care from Active Release Technique to rehabilitation exercises.

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