Pitching Elbow Problem? How To Avoid Tommy John Surgery

Coach Mills on September 25, 2012 | 3 comments so far - add yours!

Nearly 50% of youth and high school pitchers pitch with pain every year. An obvious sign that something is wrong.

If your son has a sore arm during the season or worse arm pain, you must get his mechanics evaluated so he can make the needed changes during the off-season. The only way to be sure is to get an expert video analysis.

Many pitchers get their injured shoulder or elbow rehabilitated, but most never find the source of the problem. What caused the pain or the constant soreness?  Until you find that out, the chances are very good that the pain will return even after rehabilitation and strengthening.

And that sore arm or pain can ruin an entire season.

This Article on Tommy John Surgery Shows How Poorly Informed People Are

There was an article that someone sent me last week about Tommy John surgery and how some high school pitchers think that having elbow ligament replacement surgery will help them throw harder.

That is just plain dumb and goes to show you the lack of education that exists about how pitching velocity is created.

Everyone… velocity is not about the arm.

If the shoulder or elbow joint becomes unstable or loose then there can be pain. In the case of the UCL, or the Tommy John ligament problem, there may be pain as well as numbness or tingling.  There are a couple of things to be aware of.

This is another reason why parents should invest in an off-season assessment with a good sports medicine physical therapist. They will not only advise on the pitcher’s strengths, weaknesses and flexibility, but if he has a loose shoulder or elbow or not.

If he has loose joints there are exercises to do that will help stabilize the joint. (Our First Pitch Strike Arm Care and Strengthening Program is perfect for this.)

I am helping a client right now, a high school junior, who is going through the Tommy John rehab process at his local physical therapy office. He just started throwing easily off a portable mound.

He is part of our membership roster.  This allows him to post video and get feedback.

His father just posted some video of his son throwing off that portable mound so I could give him some feedback since he still has about 8 months of rehab.

This Can Cause Elbow Problems – Is Your Son Leading With the Elbow Too Long?

One of the things we often see are pitchers who lead with the throwing elbow too long. They look like they are pushing the ball.

Here are Some Telltale Signs of What Can Cause Elbow Problems, Sore Arms and Eventually Even Tommy John Surgery

1. The pitcher leads with the elbow too long – like he is pushing the ball.

This means that after his trunk is facing the plate just before the arm goes into extension and ball release, the elbow gets ahead of the trunk. This creates a timing problem and adds stress to the elbow.

Plus the pitcher will normally not be able to fully extend his arm at ball release so this reduces velocity as well.

(You should not rely on the naked eye to pick this up. Must use video.)

2.  As the pitchers trunk is nearly facing the target, the forearm and ball continues in close to the trunk or head too long rather than extending out away from the body to the side.

You must use video to pick this up.

3.  From the side angle when videotaping does the ball come in close to the head.   Remember the arm should be cocked to about 90 degrees at landing. If you notice the ball is positioned in closer to the head than sitting over the throwing elbow then this will add stress as well.

Imagine if your son has never been videotaped so you fully understand the condition of his mechanics right now. You are basically playing Russian Roulette with his pitching.

Again, if your son has had arm soreness this year or arm pain, now is the time to find out what created the arm problem. Are you confident that your instructor can find the source of his problem and then show you how to fix it?  I seriously doubt it, unless he videotapes and is an expert in bio-mechanics.

3 comments on “Pitching Elbow Problem? How To Avoid Tommy John Surgery”

  1. lisa longino says:

    My 12 year old can throw a ball at 65 but can you give me some important things to look for in order to prevent elbow and shoulder injuries He is not having any problems but i like to take precautions

    1. Coach Mills says:

      First of all a full body and arm care warm-up routine is the first thing. You may want to look at our First Pitch Strike Warm-up and Recovery Program for the pitching arm. Then of course it is all about proper mechanics…making sure he is using his body correctly to position his arm do the body is doing the work and not the arm.

  2. Danny says:

    I’m 14 and my elbow was fine during the winter, but when I started pitching it’s been bothering me a little bit. It feels fine while I’m pitching, but after the game it’s sore and hurts mainly when I lift stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *