Pitching Arm Injuries: What to Do When a Pitcher Gets a Sore Arm
Here are some common causes of pitching arm injuries that can also affect pitching velocity and control:
- Poor pitching mechanics
- Lack of conditioning or doing the wrong workout
- Weight lifting
- Overuse throwing
- Lack of proper warm-up
- Not throwing enough pitches in practice to keep the pitcher “fit to pitch” for games
Arm Pain Can Affect Pitching Performance
Parents should be very concerned if their son has a sore arm. They should not take it lightly as it is an indication that the body is being stressed.
Other causes of a sore arm may include the towel drill and long toss. The towel drill causes the pitcher to force his throwing arm to full extension, which puts tremendous force on the throwing elbow. And, recent studies have proven that long toss increases stress to the throwing elbow.
Stretching Before Pitching Leads to Arm Stress
In 2004, a study came out that proved why stretching before pitching or throwing increases arm stress and reduces velocity. So arm stretches and even lower body stretches are not recommended. Pitchers are much better off doing an active warm-up instead of stretching and holding their arms or legs in a stretched position.
Visit a Sports Medicine Doctor
What then should a parent do if their son complains of a sore arm? Should the parent immediately take him to a doctor? Not necessarily. In most cases, if this is the first time a sore arm has developed, a doctor may not be necessary. The doctor in most first time cases will just tell the pitcher to take a week or 10 days off from throwing. That makes sense, however the doctor will not usually know what caused the sore arm.
If the pitcher has experienced a sore arm before or has complained of sharp pain, he should immediately seek the advice of a sports medicine doctor who has experience with pitching arms. And depending on the diagnosis, a second opinion may be warranted, especially if surgery is advised.
When it comes to Little League pitchers, most arm injuries are to the throwing elbow because most Little League pitchers do not develop enough force to create a shoulder problem.
Here are some steps parents can take to help their sons reduce the risk of an arm injury:
- Develop proper throwing mechanics so that he is using his body, and not just the arm, to develop force
- Use a proper full body warm-up before throwing, don’t just focus on the arm
- Stop the towel drill
- Reduce any long toss to off-season only
- Don’t stretch before throwing or pitching, instead do an active full body warm-up
- Have at least one, if not two, bullpen sessions in between games to make mechanical adjustments
- Throw all bullpens at game intensity so the body and arm are conditioned for the game
- Limit the number of pitches early in the season
- Build up the number of pitches in practice so the body and arm are ready for the game
- Insure proper recovery time between games to avoid overuse throwing
- Focus on explosive full body exercises instead of lots of weight training
Parents should learn as much as they can about throwing mechanics. This gives them the chance to videotape so they can recognize the common throwing faults that not only create sore arms but limit velocity and control, such as moving the body too slow, hesitating in the balance position, striding too short, breaking the hands too high and too early and not using their lower body to create momentum into a long stride.