What's the Most Common Injury for Baseball Players?
Baseball is a high-speed, high-impact, power game.
Did you know that throwing a baseball at a high level has enough distractive force to LITERALLY remove your throwing arm from your body?
It’s a good thing that we are made to move fast and that the structures which will handle these forces can be made equipped to handle all of that power.
Of these structures, our sports physical therapist says, one of the most common areas of pain for baseball players is strain/overuse/or injury to any of the shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles. This group of muscles is designed to keep your shoulder right where it is while you throw; maintaining the stability of the humeral head (ball of the humeral joint) inside of your glenoid (cup of the shoulder joint).
Repetitive Throwing Motions
Overuse or repetitive motion can lead to changes in mechanics that lead to loads being placed on even more structures OR on muscles/joints/ligaments that are already under high loads; this makes the breaking point of that structure even closer to “normal” use ranges of motion. That’s not good.
Many times, we find that these cuff issues are a result of a loss of power endurance during throwing and/or compensatory for power leaks that are occurring in other phases of throwing mechanics. We nearly always watch our ballplayers throw to provide further input on how to become more efficient.
While shoulder pain is the most common complaint of high-level throwers, it is common for ballplayers, especially those with previous shoulder pain and/or poor or developing mechanics, to experience elbow pain. There are several ligaments that hold your elbow together when throwing; the elbow ligament that is can be injured in this scenario is the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). This is the same ligament that is being referred to when talking about “Tommy John” surgery.
Tommy John was a pitcher in the 1970s who underwent the first successful UCL repair and resumed his pro baseball career. This injury and surgery have become far more prevalent in recent decades, with MLB pitchers now reaching new staggering heights in the speed and volume of which they can throw.
This places much greater strain on these elbow structures. ANY pain in this area for a ballplayer should be immediately evaluated.