Over the years as a hitting coach I have heard many times of young players hurting their arms and they believe it is from over throwing or with bad mechanics. What if after a close evaluation of their throwing mechanics I come to the conclusion that they actually have good mechanics? Is it really mechanics? What if it is actually their hitting mechanics? Just break it down logically. A baseball a mere 5.25 ounces in weight, while a youth baseball bat weighs 19 to 28 ounces. When looking at a swing there is the same kind of stretch in the medial side of the top hand on a swing as the overhand throwing motion of a baseball. The only difference is there is up to 5 times the weight dragging on that elbow. This is an interesting scenario that people rarely consider. I started considering it when students with poor hitting mechanics were taught proper ones by me and time after time their elbow problems went away miraculously. Things started to fall into place in my diagnosis of arm problems. It really is a combination of the two. If the player has arm problems and bad swing mechanics then the problem is magnified. The hitter stops throwing and substitutes throwing for extra hitting while their arm is supposed to be healing not recognizing that the hitting may be the contributing factor. They keep hitting and hitting and the arm problems never go away. That player eventually quits and we no longer hear from them again. I on the other hand have had many students with arm problems come and hit with me and after doing a video analysis I see that they are out of sequence and starting their swing with their arms first and then turning their hips last. After showing them this and a new sequence their swing becomes more efficient and this takes strain off the arm. In a short time they are throwing again without pain and have no clue why. Do you know who else gets medial epicondylitis? Golfers do. Hours and hours of downward swinging and then their elbow starts hurting. So next time your young player develops arm problems look at the whole picture not just a part of it. Thanks for stopping by
Tommy John Surgery Click here for the article.
I have been talking about my own personal theories on the the increasing number of Tommy John procedures at the High School, College, and Professional levels. I have felt for a long time that it wasn’t the curve ball being thrown at a young age. How can a pitch that slows the arm down injury it? Also a curve ball shortens the UCL where a fastball stretches it, which cause more stress on the ligament. The tendon in the UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament) will fail in cadavers at 65 newtons of force. The newtons produced by a fastball in a live person are less than 65, so when is the ligament failing? One simple answer is overuse and the inability to recover. Pitching causes micro trauma in the tissues. That is why the arm is sore after an outing. MLB pitchers have a specific throwing program designed to keep them throwing well all season. If they have had any arm problems as a youth and continue this rigorous throwing regiment then I firmly believe that they are at serious risk of having a major arm injury in their career. So what do you do if you have had or are currently experiencing one of these arm injuries like tendonitis, dead arm, sprain/strain UCL? Myofascial release or Tool Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy is a great start. Tool Assisted or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy has some great benefits. When tissue become inflamed and irritated by throwing the edge of the tools break up adhesions that restrict range of motion in the arm. Not only in the elbow, but the rest of the forearm and shoulder. You can even follow the bodies natural myofascial trains down to the feet and break up the complete train lines restrictions. Once I was taking a history on a young pitcher how had never had any arm problems. Then I asked him of he hand sprained his ankle in the last few months. He said, “Yes, I did three months ago. What does that have to do with my arm?” It changed everything. First of all it was his left ankle and his plant foot. He started shortening up his stride to compensate the pain. It changed his overall mechanics and he did not do any rehab for the ankle. He was playing on three travel teams too and didn’t want to miss many games. He taped the ankle and kept playing. So the first thing I did was work on his ankle. The tools were painful and he had many adhesions to break up. I think I made him cry more than once. I did not start working on his arm for three weeks. I kept tabs on his stride length and when it return to his former length he reported his arm felt great. Active Release Therapy or ART is also effective when trying to reduce adhesions and release muscle knots and range of motion restrictions. You can check out ART on youtube.com or even google it. There is plenty of video on the web. There are also videos in IASTT too. Just use the key words Graston, Faktr, Gavilan.
I have been watching travel baseball kids for the last three and a half years in San Jose. One facility runs tournaments 45 weeks of the year. The weather is good enough here to do this. What disturbs me is I see a young are throw 2 innings on game one. then later in the day his team gets into trouble and he comes out and throws another inning. The coaches know the exact number of inning that their pitcher can throw and still be eligible to throw tomorrow. Sure enough tomorrow comes and maybe they throw him again. Sometimes they even start the same kid and the goes four innings and is done for the rest of the tournament. Or they save him for the very end to throw relief in the championship game. The boy wants to win so even though he may be a little stiff he sucks it up and throws as many innings as possible and as hard as he can to get that win. The expense of winning is the integrity of his developing young arm. When I coached travel ball I made sure we had enough pitching so when a pitcher threw then he was done for the rest of the tournament. I don’t really believe its the number of pitches either. I believe its the lack of recovery. The body has no time to have a proper healing response to the micro trauma of pitching.