Top 9 Reasons Pitchers Get Injured – Part 2

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

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In Part 2 of this 3 Part series (click here of part 1), we’re continuing down the path of injuries and what I believe to be many of the main perpetrators…

4. Lack of Mobility/Stability – We need to help the body achieve more athletic positions in the delivery with mobility work. Mobility is “the ability to move freely into a desired position” and is definitely something that is lost fairly quickly. In fact, many athletes don’t even realize they’re losing it until they’re injured. If you combine a loss of shoulder and hip mobility with the speed of the pitching movement, and for many repetitions you can get a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, not all athletes need extensive mobility work. Those with laxity (excessive joint range of motion) need more stability to help them get into more athletic positions. For these guys some foam rolling, scapular stability work and good ‘ol fashioned strength training may be just what the doctor ordered.

(Mobility – Quadruped T-spine Mobility)

5. Poor Pitching Mechanics – Do following scenarios sound familiar?

  • Pitcher’s arm hurts
  • He goes to Physical Therapist (PT)
  • PT shuts him down for 6 weeks
  • Pain goes away
  • Pitcher starts throwing again
  • Pitcher’s arm hurts again…

The question is “are we really fixing the problem or just relieving the symptoms”.  I mean, obviously if we stop throwing, the pain will go away but if it returns once throwing begins again it’s generally a clear sign that something is awry in the pitching delivery. For example, sequencing issues of the lower half can cause the athlete to overuse the arm to generate a higher velocity ceiling. This can cause pain in the anterior shoulder and medial elbow. Giving this athlete specific throwing correctives to help engage the lower half, and teaching him to create a more “hip dominant” back leg, will allow him to put more force into the ground while coming down the mound.  The net result of all this will create lower half leverage in the delivery and take much of the stress off of the anterior shoulder by lowering the work load of the upper body and arm.

6. Inadequate Rest between Outings – “Fatigue is the enemy of motor learning” – Nick Winkelman

After each outing on the mound, there can be up to a 10 degree loss of gleno-humeral IR, losses in hip mobility and ankle stability, just to name a few. It goes without saying, that if you don’t perform proper maintenance religiously (see #4 above), and you don’t rest adequately between outings, you will, sooner or later, experience a gradual loss in total range of motion. This not only compromises movement patterns but also increases the risk of injury as well.

Note: Many times there are no warning signs of fatigue but if you know what to look for, fatigue can present itself in a variety of ways including by the way mechanical issues on the mound (such as a decrease in stride length, lack of trunk flexion or releasing the ball high and arm side to name a few). Here’s a great chart (courtesy of Pitch Smart and P.T. Mike Reinold) to let you know where you stand.

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Stay tuned next time when we’ll talk about ramping up, shutting down and oh yeah, getting strong (strength training).

See ya’ in the gym…


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