15 Causes Of Pitching Arm Injuries

  • Updated on Dec. 17, 2016

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ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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Danny Duffy

Even with proper conditioning, good warm-up techniques, adequate rest and proper throwing mechanics, the shoulder, elbow joint and the arm muscles of a mature hard throwing pitcher experience a great amount of stress.

Pitchers, coaches and trainers should understand the difference between normal discomfort caused by stress and muscle fatigue, and the intense and or prolonged pain of a muscle, tendon, or joint injury.

Coaches and trainers should also be aware that individual pitchers generate varying amounts of force, stress, and onset of fatigue. Pitchers vary in arm strength and stamina, the need for recovery time, and post game stiffness.

The causes of pitching arm injuries are divided into three categories:

  1. Conditioning issues
  2. Fatigue, overuse and/or overload factors
  3. Mechanical faults

Conditioning issues that may lead to injury

  • The lack of being properly conditioned
    • Lack of total body fitness
    • Lack of arm strengthening via a progressive preseason throwing program
  • The lack of the development of good arm strength and stamina over a long period of time
    • Need for an off-season throwing program
    • Need of a supervised and structured pre-season and in-season throwing program.
  • Improper strengthening and/or weight training program causing:
    • A restricted range of motion in the shoulder and/or trunk
    • An imbalance of antagonistic muscle strength
    • The shortening or bulking up of muscle fibers involved in the throwing mechanism.
  • Over-stretching the shoulder joint causing too much laxity.
  • Lack of a proper warm-up and stretching program before pitching.
  • Experimenting with new pitches at full velocity, full distance, or throwing too hard for too long too early in the season.

Fatigue, overuse, and/or overload factors

  • Throwing too many pitches during one outing
  • Throwing when tired, fatigued, or with tight muscle fibers.
  • Not getting adequate rest and recovery time between pitching turns.
  • Lack of an active in-season maintenance program of running, stretching, light strengthening work, and a controlled throwing program.
  • Playing or practicing at other positions between pitching turns, over-use.
  • Strength work on the work-out schedule is too strenuous between pitching turns causing a general body or specific muscle fatigue.

Mechanics faults

This usually negatively affects control, velocity and cause added stress on the throwing arm.

  • Rushing the motion
    • Body ahead of the arm
    • Diving into the pitch
  • Throwing arm action faults
    • Wrist or arm hooking
    • Flailing arm behind body.
    • Long arming
    • Fingers under the ball
  • Cocked Position Faults
    • Low elbow or hand position
    • Early external rotation of shoulder
    • Throwing hand out of position
  • Stride problems
    • Striding across the body
    • Striding open
    • Over striding
    • Stride leg fails to brace up
  • Lead arm action faults
    • Too little lead arm action
    • Too slow, or too late lead arm action
  • Trunk rotation problems
    • Lack of proper trunk rotation
    • Early trunk rotation
    • Extreme tilt of trunk
  • Acceleration or release problems
    • Elbow and throwing hand too high
    • Arm slot too close to head
  • Deceleration and follow through problems
    • Recoil action of body and arm
    • Short arming across the body
    • Improper arm path into body
  • Release of breaking pitches
    • Undercutting curve ball or slider
    • Hyperextension of elbow
    • Stiff wristing the slider or splitter

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One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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Are there any additional causes of pitching injuries that I missed?

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