Injury Prevention for Baseball Pitchers and Throwers
I often get youth baseball pitchers/throwers come in for examination and treatment of shoulder and elbow injuries. It has become quite a prevalent issue among many young athletes. I want to discuss a couple of key aspects of the body that can help prevent over-use injuries, the most common injuries suffered by baseball players.
Your body’s joints, starting from the foot to the wrist, alternates the need for stability and mobility. Let’s start at the hip and point out at the below diagram that we need proper hip joint mobility and moving up we need proper Lumbar (Core) stability. Next is Thoracic spine mobility, cervical spine stability moving upwards. Moving outwards from the Thoracic Spine (not pictured), you need scapular (shoulder blade) stability, shoulder joint mobility, elbow stability and wrist mobility.
This kinetic chain of the body shows that what happens downstream can affect upstream in the body. For instance, if you have lack of proper hip stability, you will have to get that movement excessively from the Lumbar spine which causes low back injuries and such. This compensation pattern can happen in many places in the body and is a leading cause of overuse injuries. Many of our overhead sports and especially throwing injuries are due to physical dysfunctions in the lower body, core, scapula, etc.
For the shoulder function to be ideal during overhead throwing, the body needs to have proper mobility and stability where needed. More directly, if you lack Thoracic mobility, then that will negatively impact you scapular stability and shoulder joint mobility. This is a leading cause of shoulder and elbow injuries in pitchers and throwers. This scenario of improper scapular stability leads me to the second concept I want to discuss below.