Why does my shoulder hurt when I throw a baseball?

Why does my shoulder hurt when I throw a baseball

Baseball is a physical sport and if you don’t look after yourself, you can get really hurt. I constantly get people asking me, “why does my shoulder hurt when I throw a baseball?” Well, in this article, I’ll try to answer that. 

The age-old question: Why does my shoulder hurt when I throw a baseball?

Whether you have little knowledge of the body’s anatomy or not, the answer is easy to understand. Your arm is connected to the rest of your body through a joint which we will call it “the shoulder joint”. I am calling at a shoulder joint because there’s a bunch of tendons and nerves in there which I won’t mention.

No matter how hard you throw a baseball, the pain will probably appear when this mixture of muscles, ligaments, and tendons are overstressed by the repetitive nature of the throwing action.

One of the first things coaches teach young baseballers is the phases of throwing: Wind-up, cocking, acceleration, and follow-through. But something they normally don’t mention is that these motions will also stress our shoulder joint and each of its muscles.

But, why the pain…

Which leads us to the more exact reason of the shoulder pain: From the wind-up phase to the acceleration phase the rotator cuff muscles causes a rotational acceleration which in a simpler word means a concentric contraction in those muscles, and when you release the ball  (follow-through) causes an eccentric contraction during the deceleration of the arm.

Other causes for shoulder pain after you throw a baseball are:

  • Over-training is a terrible choice if you are trying to avoid a shoulder injury
  • Having low hip, hamstring and wrist flexibility and strength will also impact your chances from getting an injury due to these part of the bodies are very important to an excellent throwing mechanic
  • Having short rest periods is like destroying your own shoulder little by little
  • A poor throwing mechanic automatically will produce you shoulder injuries after several pitches, or some lack of strength in your shoulder joint bones because of an anatomic problem.

The most common injuries that’ll occur to a shoulder in Baseball are shoulder tendonitis, a torn rotator cuff, a labral or “SLAP” tear or even a broken humerus (upper arm).

Treatment for a shoulder injury in baseball

The first thing the medical professional commands us when our shoulder hurts is to rest. The cessation of any throwing activity is required in order to let the body heals by itself. As the pain in the shoulder mostly is due to the inflammation of its muscles, the resting time is usually accompanied by an inflammation treatment. 

Ice is the first and most-known treatment a doctor will tell you to do, but depending on the swelling level of your shoulder, anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections will help the injury to end.

When this phase of treatment ends, a professional will evaluate your shoulder and its mobility in order to determine if you are in conditions to throw again or your injury is more severe than you think. If your pain continues after several days you will have to take several tests in order to know exactly where the problem is and which injury you suffer. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound are the best tests to diagnose a shoulder injury.

As mentioned earlier, the most common injuries a baseball player (mostly a pitcher) suffers are Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior injury (SLAP tears), tendon tears, rotator cuff tear, instability, scapular rotation dysfunction (SICK scapula), internal impingement, and so on.

In any case of suffering one of these shoulder injuries, the previous nonsurgical treatments, alongside physical therapy may work, but normally when you have a diagnosis of a severe injury, the most recommended treatment doctors will tell you about is surgery.

Surgery is the extreme scenario when nor therapy or cortisone injections have worked to restore the health of your shoulder. However, there are some great exercises you can do, as mentioned in the video below. All you have to do is click the image from the video and it’ll take you to the page.  

How to avoid injuring your shoulder throwing a baseball?

In order to prevent these injuries to happen many physical therapists and coaches recommend some tips and exercises. If you are a young baseball player, the first thing the coaches will tell you is to train hard.

Training will keep your muscles strong and healthy in both, current season and offseason, and will reduce the risk of suffering shoulder injuries. And before any practice or any game is extremely important you warm your body up otherwise the chances of getting injured will rise considerably.

As players who usually suffer from these injuries are the pitchers (due to the number of pitches and its intensity) the most important advice to avoid these types of injuries is to domain a proper throwing technique.

A pitcher needs to make every single pitch with an excellent throwing technique and this includes every part of your body because one single misstep of the mechanic could lead into a shoulder injury due to a bad movement of your mechanic.

And another piece of advice to prevent shoulder injuries is one of the previous treatments against shoulder pain, every time you finish throwing put some ice on your shoulder to reduce the stresses.

Stay healthy and strong

You entered here trying to look an answer for the question every young baseball players ask themselves, and we think with all the information we’ve provided you can help other people to understand why does your shoulder hurt when you throw a baseball.  

And as an extra tip always remember, people who have a healthy life and an excellent program of training are those whose body is always prepared for any physical activity such as baseball. Therefore we highly recommend you to train hard but carefully, always listen to your body, don’t over stress it trying to making your body stronger.

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