Throwing Off Shoulder Pain!

At The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we come across many cases of throwing related shoulder pain. Shoulder pain whilst throwing can be both frustrating and limiting.  Summer sports such as cricket or baseball or even throwing a tennis ball with the kids can all lead to shoulder pain. So if you’ve experienced shoulder pain whilst throwing this summer, now is an ideal time to get begin the process of rectifying the situation.

 At times throwing related shoulder pain can occur because of serious underlying pathology which needs to be addressed, perhaps medically or surgically. Similarly there are many cases that will respond well to throwing technique modification, load management and exercises.

With the increasing popularity of summer sports such as cricket and baseball so is the incidence of throwing related injuries. Throwing with speed and accuracy requires a great deal of skill and coordination and when not done correctly can place excessive stress on various soft tissues and joints, particularly the shoulder. Young athletes have an increased risk of developing throwing related injuries as their bodies and movement patterns are still developing. When combined with year round training, representative teams and intensive camps, unfortunately it is sometimes only a matter of time before injury occurs.

Preventing an injury is preferable to treating an established pathology therefore identifying and modifying potential risk factors is vital.  The most common and easily modified risk factors for throwing injuries relate to overuse patterns and throwing technique. Limitations in flexibility and strength may also be relevant and potentially modifiable.

During the season overuse injuries can result from either high volumes of throwing over a sustained period (year round games) or from spikes in throwing (school holiday camps or tournament play). Managing the volume and intensity of throwing can be achieved without necessarily affecting overall participation. For instance in cricket and baseball throwing risk can be reduced by restricting throwing at training in fielding drills and in matches avoiding fielding positions where the throwing load is high. Baseball, for instance, has age specific recommendations respectively relating to pitching which should be adhered to. Simple strategies that allow for the monitoring and subsequent reduction in the volume and intensity of the throwing that is undertaken each week can be useful.  We need to allow the body to adapt and recover over time therefore to avoiding the overload cycle that can lead to injury.

Technique issues can be a little more difficult to correct on your own and often require input from a coach or physiotherapist with specific knowledge of patterns involved in safe and correct throwing. The aim is to throw using the whole kinetic chain in order to transfer power from the legs and thighs, towards the trunk and eventually into the arm and forearm as you release the ball. The throwing action can be divided into several distinct phases.  The thighs and trunk should generate much of the force generated for throwing. If any link in the chain is broken, or inefficient, then excessive stresses can be placed further up the chain, resulting in overload and potentially injuring the shoulder.

Here at the Melbourne Sports Medicine we have a number of experienced physiotherapists and Sports Medicine Doctors with specific knowledge and interest in the diagnosis, treatment and management of throwing related injuries. One of our physiotherapist Scott Mitchinson has a special interest in throwing coaching. Scott is a former professional baseball player and has recently worked with the Perth Scorchers and Western Warriors cricket teams, coaching safe and efficient throwing techniques.  Read more about Scott here.

So if you are keen to finally resolve that persistent throwing related shoulder pain for the next season contact us at The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre. Pure rest is unlikely to be the answer, but an accurate diagnosis, movement analysis and biomechanical assessment undertaken in the offseason can help form the framework to getting that shoulder happily throwing again.

To arrange an appointment to see Scott please phone 9650 9372 or book online.