America’s favorite pastime, baseball comes with its own risks and rewards. Along the way you, or your child may come across some shoulder injuries. This blog is going to discuss some of the common baseball shoulder injuries, and some tips on how to keep them from progressing.
Baseball Shoulder Injuries
Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Impingement
Lead off batter is the good ole Rotator Cuff and his teammate, shoulder impingement. These are the most common baseball shoulder injuries we see in baseball/softball athletes.The rotator cuff is actually made up of four separate muscles that all do something slightly different than each other. But, their main job is to stabilize the arm in the shoulder socket. Too much movement in and around the shoulder joint can cause impingement which leads to irritation of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscle. This happens when there is too much fatigue or a person is throwing too much. This friction develops into tendonitis, and if not managed properly, can lead to a partial or full tear. DON’T PANIC! There’s research out there that supports that people are probably living with rotator cuff pathologies and do not even know it. Because, not all of them hurt. If it is a full thickness tear the best management strategy is to have surgery to repair it. They will anchor the tendon back where it belongs and try to normalize shoulder motion as much as possible with rehab. Now, partial thickness tears can be managed by physical therapy and get back to the sport you love.
Next up to the plate are Labral Tears for the second most common of the baseball shoulder injuries. There are different types of these, but we will focus on the SLAP variation for now. This shoulder injury involves the biceps tendon getting irritated and starts to peel off the top part of the labrum. Letting these go could lead to surgery to tighten down the labrum again. It’s job is very similar to the rotator cuff in keeping the shoulder joint nice and tight. If either of these get out of whack you can have shoulder pain and that shoulder is not going to move as well as it could.
I have one of these Baseball Shoulder Injuries… Now What!?
If you think one of these may be happening to you, or you just want to decrease the likelihood of getting these common baseball shoulder injuries, then follow these two tips. STOP stretching into internal rotation. The throwing athlete needs external rotation to load their shoulder and arm and propel the ball forward. SO, the more external rotation that is needed the less internal rotation we should see in an athlete. Stretching for more internal rotation mobility will actually cause performance to decrease and increase likelihood of injury. Second tip is to monitor pitch count. This one kind of comes down to the basics of supply and demand. If you play ball for most of the year, the arm and shoulder structures never get a break to recover and become stronger. So the supply (your strength and energy) is depleting, you are getting fatigued, but the demand remains the same. This will lead to an injury at some point. Guidelines actually exist for pitch count in the youth athletes for both practice and games. The MLB has pitching count recommendations for youth athletes.
Are You Struggling With Shoulder Pain?
If your shoulder injury is lingering, you are worried about it getting worse, or you just want to make sure you are doing things right, feel free to reach out to us by filling out one of our contact forms!