Despite the pitcher being a relatively stationary position, baseball pitching injuries are quite common. The repetitive throwing motion makes pitchers as prone to injuries as any other players on the field.
Although pitchers can develop injuries within the lower body, the majority of the problems develop within their throwing arm. The most common baseball pitching injuries tend to involve the rotator cuff or the elbow.
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Common Pitching Injuries
The oblique muscle runs the length of the torso and helps the body rotate, making it an essential muscle in a pitcher’s delivery. Oblique strains typically involve six to eight weeks of recovery.
This shoulder injury involves damage to the labrum — a ring of firm tissue around the shoulder socket that helps stabilize the joint and keep your arm bone in the socket. It is also known as a SLAP tear, which stands for “superior labrum, anterior to posterior” – in other words, the top part of the labrum, from the front to the back.
SLAP tears are characterized by deep pain in the shoulder, especially when moving your arm over your head. There may also be popping, clicking, or catching in the shoulder.
Tendonitis can affect multiple areas of a pitcher’s arm, but it most commonly occurs in the elbow. Recovery time is based on severity, but athletes typically are able to return to healthy status within a few weeks.
Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery)
Injury of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a band of collective tissue in the elbow, is the most common type of ligament injury among throwing athletes, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
UCL injuries are a result of the repetitive use of the elbow. If you damage your UCL, you may need ligament reconstruction. This procedure is known as Tommy John surgery because it was first performed on Dodgers pitcher Thomas Edward John Jr., in 1974. Recovery can take up to one year.
Rotator cuff tendonitis
The rotator cuff is a group of tough, flexible fibers (tendons) and muscles in the shoulder. Rotator cuff tendonitis occurs as a result of tissue in the rotator cuff being irritated from overuse or degeneration and may result in difficulty fully rotating the arm without pain.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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