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Shoulder Pain When Throwing

Baseball, softball, and football are just a few sports that involve an overhand throw. Throwing is a natural activity for a person, but the mechanics of throwing involve much more than you think. Throwing is an activity that involves the entire body and has multiple phases, including the wind-up, cocking, acceleration, and deceleration. Therefore, shoulder pain when throwing is more common than you’d think. 

The motion of throwing requires a healthy functioning shoulder in which the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone can all move in a synchronized pattern. However, due to this complex movement, the shoulder is particularly susceptible to injury. 

Understanding the Mechanics of Throwing

To begin, the wind-up phase is the beginning of the throwing motion. This phase prepares the body for the act of throwing the ball. The cocking phase is the next phase, in which the arm prepares to actually throw the ball, and the body moves forward toward its target. This phase involves peak muscle activation of the deltoid.

Acceleration occurs after the cocking phase, and this phase involves throwing the arm forward to throw the ball to the target. The anterior upper quadrant muscles all work together, moving the arm from extreme external rotation to internal rotation. This phase ends when the ball is released from the thrower’s hand. 

The deceleration phase begins once the ball leaves the thrower’s hand. All muscles, tendons, and ligaments are involved in this movement. Eccentric control is essential in this phase, as this contraction is required to slow down the arm motion. The deceleration phase is recognized as the most harmful phase of throwing as there are many associated injuries to this phase. 

Types of Shoulder Pain When Throwing

Throwing places high stresses on the shoulder, and when an athlete is repeating these stressful movements, it can lead to several injuries. Some common throwing injuries of the shoulder that may arise from throwing include:

SLAP Tears (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior)

A SLAP tear is a type of shoulder injury that occurs when there is a lesion to the labrum. This injury to the shoulder is commonly caused by repetitive use of the shoulder, especially overhead movements or force. 

Bicep Tendinitis and Tendon Tears

Bicep tendinitis occurs when the upper biceps tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. This injury commonly occurs due to everyday wear and tear. However, this degeneration can worsen with overuse through repetitive shoulder motions.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Tears 

Rotator cuff tendinitis affects the tendons and muscles that help the shoulder joint move. Similar to bicep tendinitis, rotator cuff tendinitis occurs over time from everyday wear and tear but can worsen from repeated stress on the rotator cuff. 

Internal Impingement 

Internal impingement is another common cause of shoulder pain in athletes that are required to throw for their sport. This condition consists of injury to the labrum and rotator cuff. 

Schedule an Appointment

If you are dealing with shoulder pain caused by throwing, contact Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of NY & CT. At Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of NY & CT, we offer everything from sports medicine to physical therapy. Schedule an appointment today.

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