Whether you’re a pitcher or an outfielder, your shoulder is one of your most important assets as a baseball player. But all that overhead throwing increases your risk of a shoulder injury.
Though we do perform surgery when absolutely necessary, we would rather that baseball players take good care of their shoulders to avoid surgical interventions and the lengthy rehabilitation that follows.
As baseball season gets underway, we encourage you to follow these tips to avoid shoulder injuries and the need for shoulder surgery.
Play other sports
We know baseball is your life. But most shoulder injuries in baseball players occur from overuse. The repetitive throwing stresses and strains the rotator cuff (tendons that attach the arm muscle to the shoulder), leading to inflammation, tears, and eventually, shoulder instability.
During your off-season, play other sports that work out different parts of the body to give your throwing arm a rest, such as track and field or soccer. Cross-training also improves your overall fitness, which may benefit your baseball game and reduce your risk of injuries.
Strengthen the supporting muscles
Throwing at high speeds requires the full function of your shoulder. When you move your arm up and behind your back, you force the ball joint of the humerus forward, straining the ligaments at the front of the shoulder.
Then, the quick rotation of your arm forward to release the ball stresses the ligaments and tendons in the back of your shoulder that keep the ball joint in the socket.
Strengthening the muscles that support shoulder movement may reduce the excess stress placed on the ligaments and muscles. There’s a set of exercises called the Thrower’s Ten designed specifically for the muscles necessary for throwing.
Our physical therapy team develops workout routines that improve ball throwing, reducing the risk of injury.
Listen to your body
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is wrong, so tune in. If you have shoulder pain during or after throwing a baseball, it’s time to take a break. Don’t play through the pain, as you may worsen your injury.
Sometimes a little rest is all you need. But if your shoulder pain fails to improve after a few days or worsens, it’s time to schedule an appointment with our sports medicine providers. We can determine the source of your pain and create a plan that improves it without surgery.
If you continue to have pain in your throwing shoulder and it’s affecting your ability to play baseball, we may recommend shoulder surgery to either repair a tear or tighten the ligaments. No matter what type of surgery we perform, it can take up to a year for you to fully recover.
Prevention is the best way for baseball players to avoid shoulder surgery. Most baseball organizations have pitch and throw limits to reduce throwing arm fatigue and injuries. Talk to your coach about your throwing limits.
Baseball players need a strong, healthy shoulder. If you have a shoulder injury or want to prevent an injury, call our office in Castro Valley, California, at 510-538-0430 today to request an appointment.