There’s a reason professional pitchers have a hard time getting contracts longer than five years. We’ve all seen it, a guy can toss hundreds of Cy Young-caliber innings over a few years, bring relief to fans’ hearts and to his manager’s neck veins, and then, suddenly, almost literally overnight, he loses it.
All baseball players, not just pitchers put a tremendous amount of stress on their arms. Overhand throwing is one of the quickest motions in sports and one that causes tremendous strain on a number of joints. Taking care of your arm is vital, even from the youngest age.
Common Arm Injuries
Where football players fear ACL injuries, baseball players lose sleep over UCL tears. Your Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is located in the elbow, and is one of most commonly torn ligaments among baseball players.
UCL reconstruction surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery, is an well-known answer to particularly serious UCL tears in which the ligament is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body or from a cadaver.
Baseball players can also suffer from flexor tendinitis, which is inflammation of the flexor/pronator tendons on the inside part of the elbow. They’ll feel pain on the inside of the elbow when throwing, or, in serious cases, during rest.
Preventing such arm injuries is relatively simple. As the athlete’s body gets bigger and muscles get stronger, efforts need to be made to strengthen the supportive anatomy around those muscles, i.e. tendons and ligaments.
Proper stretching, conditioning, and pacing during warm-ups is vital to avoiding injury, as well as care after practice or games.
Stretches such as shoulder circles, arm circles, triceps stretches and hug stretches to work the rotator cuff, shoulder ligaments, and overall arm.
Doing these stretches both before and after is vital to proper arm care, but other products can help significantly.
If you watch baseball on TV, you’ll be familiar with the sight of a starting pitcher with a huge bag of ice taped to his shoulder after being relieved. Fortunately, there are products a bit wieldier than a plastic bag full of ice water. EliteKold, for example, has the Atheltic Shoulder Ice Wrap to keep things dry, clean and cool. With a universal fit for both righties and lefties and an unobtrusive design, the athlete can cool down and avoid injury without much down time in their normal life.
You can also incorporate arm bands into your warm-up or cool-down exercises. The Jaeger Sports J-Bands are a great option. They can be used for eleven different exercises designed to strengthen the rotator cuff and surrounding muscle groups. They can be used to prevent injury, reduce recovery period, and increase throw velocity over time.
Arm injuries are no joke. Even the slightest strain or muscle pull can put the baseball player out of commission for longer than they’re willing to handle. Take care of your arm; your arm will take care of you.
Between some standard, time-tested exercises and some emerging technologies, there is no shortage of resources to help you recover and get back on the diamond.