Shoulder Pain in Throwers
Each spring, at the beginning of baseball and softball season, people will develop pain and soreness in the arm and shoulder when throwing, or after throwing. This can linger or worsen as the season goes, potentially zapping their throwing strength and their ability to participate when it could easily be corrected.
Typically, this pain is a result of overuse or strain on the rotator cuff muscles. Throwing is a very demanding task on the shoulder and requires a sturdy foundation of strength within the rotator cuff muscle group and mobility of the entire shoulder. When we go from not throwing through winter (except maybe the odd snowball) to getting out on the field in spring, it can be a very abrupt change, and therefore, overworks these small supporting rotator cuff muscles. These muscles can then become very tense or tight, and the tendons can become painful from being over worked. Combine this with poor or limited range of motion or mobility and it becomes even more challenging to throw comfortably.
Prevention can be addressed by doing some simple exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff so that it can better support the high demands of the throwing motion. Taking care to warm-up properly is vital. The rule of thumb should be, “warm-up to throw, don’t throw to warm-up!”. This will make huge improvement to comfort and performance.
Try these four quick basic warm-up exercises.
- Arm circles: starting small at shoulder height moving to large circles
over 30 seconds. Forwards and backwards
- AROM IR/ER starting at sides gradually moving up to 90 abd 30 seconds
- Banded IR @ 90 Abd 2×15
- Banded ER @ 90 Abd 2×15
Through physiotherapy, we can address excessive tightness, and work to improve strength. Manual therapy and IMS, which can help reduce pain and restore the range of movement needed to throw. Modalities can be applied to settle any inflammation which may have developed.
Education is key to better learn how to warm-up properly for throwing. It is equally important to identify which muscles need to be strengthened properly and how to do it. Your Physiotherapist can guide you through the steps.