Top 10 things to Know if You Participate in a Throwing Sport
1. Throwing sports are those that involve high-velocity maximum effort arm motions to propel objects and include baseball, softball, tennis, football, and track and field sports like javelin, hammer throw, and shot put to name a few.
2. There aren’t many activities that put more stress on the shoulder than throwing a baseball. It’s just the right weight and size to create the perfect storm for shoulder injuries.
3. Thrower’s injuries are usually a mileage issue. The more you throw, and the harder you throw, the more likely you are to be injured.
4. The late-cocking/early acceleration phase of throwing causes the most damage to the shoulder. This phase is when the arm and ball are behind the body and the shoulder is wound into external rotation with great force.
5. Young throwers are at higher risk for injury now than when I was growing up because they throw more (year-round baseball training and competition) and have learned to throw harder. I occasionally see shoulder injuries in baseball and softball players as young as 13 years old that look like injures I’ve seen in 30-year-old professional baseball pitchers.
6. Throwing through pain (not stopping when soreness begins) increases a throwers risk of an injury that will require surgery by 40 times. Don’t throw if your arm hurts.
7. There is a tip sheet available through STOP SPORTS INJURIES that outlines suggested limits for young throwers and some safety tips. They were generated by my mentor, James R. Andrews, MD and his colleagues Mary Lloyd Ireland and Glenn Fleisig.
8. Pitchers can reduce the risk of shoulder injury by doing repeated warmups between innings. These are called “Two Out Drills.” Modified versions of these intermittent warmups can help prevent shoulder injuries in tennis, softball, track and field, golf and other sports.
9. Technique can play a big role in shoulder injuries in throwers. Biomechanical studies have demonstrated tremendous peak stresses on the shoulder. Technical modifications in the throwing motion (and in the motion of the baseball, tennis, and golf swing) can reduce the risk of injury (and also increase performance).
10. Offering advanced biological interventions including PRP and Stem Cell injections as well as advanced arthroscopic and rehabilitation techniques have helped over 2,000 athletes return to overhead sports.
Dr. Damon H. Petty is an orthopedic physicians who sees patients at TOA’s Lebanon