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Pitchers Beware! 3 Joints That May Be Causing Your Elbow Pain…

| June 21, 2018

It’s summertime, and that means baseball season is in full swing! While spring season is wrapping up, many players are traveling more for summer leagues and all-star tournaments which leads to increased practices and multiple games a week. All of this playing time adds up to significant throwing repetitions.

By Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The cumulative wear and tear of a long spring season, followed by immediately jumping into summer leagues, can leave elbows feeling achy and sore. And it’s no wonder….take a look at this pitch by Clayton Kershaw! This photo shows the extreme torque that is placed on the elbow during a pitch, and demonstrates the mobility needed in other joints to execute a successful throw.

3 joints that affect elbow pain

1. SHOULDER

Your throwing shoulder needs the ability to comfortably reach overhead to reduce the workload on your elbow.
How to fix it: Foam rolling and performing a child’s pose stretch (arms overhead, sitting with your hips back toward your feet) can help release tightness in your rotator cuff and surrounding muscles, increasing mobility in your shoulder.

2. THORACIC SPINE

The thoracic spine is responsible for creating rotation within the back to prevent the elbow from lagging behind the body during the pitching motion.
How to fix it: Sit on the edge of a table or bed while giving yourself a hug and rotate back and forth. This will isolate your thoracic spine and provide a stretch necessary to increase mobility.

3. HIPS

The pitching motion requires significant rotation in the hips to allow propulsion from the back leg to the front leg in order to generate velocity and force.
How to fix it: The pigeon stretch is useful in gaining external rotation. Place one hip in front of you with the foot rotated toward your opposite leg. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hip of the front leg.

It can be difficult to determine when to play through the pain and when to temporarily retire your throwing arm in favor of rest and rehab. The physical therapists at Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center can help guide you in these decisions, while addressing the impairments that place added stress on the elbow.

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