why does my elbow hurt when i throw a softball
Few things ruin the satisfaction of a good pitch than throbbing pain in your pitching arm. Repeatedly throwing a softball in the same manner can gradually cause an overuse injury in the elbow, the joint where the humerus bone of the upper arm connects with the radius and ulna bones of the forearm. Overuse injuries can cause lasting harm if they are not diagnosed and treated promptly. Several conditions are caused by repetitively throwing a softball. Damage to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the primary stabilizer of the elbow, is the most common elbow injury for softball pitchers, according to the Andrews Institute. Pain occurs on the inside of the elbow, and athletes often have decreased throwing speed. Flexor tendinitis, an irritation of the flexor/pronator tendons of the humerus, is another common condition that causes similar symptoms. Pain may only be noticeable when throwing, or if severe, when resting.
Anyone who experiences elbow pain after throwing a softball should seek the immediate guidance of a physician or sports doctor to get a diagnosis and avoid aggravating the condition. A physician will give you a physical examination to check your range of motion, strength and stability in the elbow. She will likely apply pressure over the elbow to find the exact location of the discomfort. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you will generally be advised to rest for a short period. You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication or be sent to visit a physical therapist. Surgery may be an option in serious cases. Strength training is a vital part of preventing overuse injuries. Weak muscles in your core -- such as the abdominals, obliques and lower back -- can cause you to overcompensate with your arms when you throw, causing strain.
Exercises such as the plank pose, in which you hold yourself at the top of a push-up position while keeping your tailbone tucked and your back straight, can powerfully strengthen your abdominal muscles. Aim to hold the plank pose for 30 seconds to one minute. To help prevent overuse injuries, do not throw softballs every day. Your body needs a day or two to rest and heal after strenuous activity. If you play on a softball team, play seasonally instead of year-round. Always warm up before playing softball by stretching, running and throwing gently. You may need to have your pitching mechanics analyzed since poor form, such as not following through after a pitch, can quickly lead to injury. Avoid or scale back on other sports with overhead throwing motions, such as tennis or volleyball.
There can be many different reasons why your elbow hurts while throwing. First we must take a look at where it is hurting and when it is hurting during your throwing motion to truly get a full understanding of what is happening.
One of the most common ailments is a sprain to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on the inner or medial aspect of the elbow. This can range from a mild sprain requiring only rehabilitation to a severe sprain which would require surgery. Other inner elbow or medial elbow pain can be associated to a muscular strain to the flexor mass, ulnar nerve irritation, bone chips or bone spurs. Lateral or outer elbow soreness can be muscular in nature to bone chips or spurs. One word of note, if you are an adolescent one must be concerned with a growth plate injury. All of the ailments I noted above must be evaluated and diagnosed by a physician. After being evaluated by your physician I would recommend working with a certified athletic trainer or physical therapist to determine if you have any other weakness in your shoulder or core.
Often times elbow pain while throwing is associated with a decrease in strength or flexibility of the shoulder or core. My final recommendation is to seek the advice of a pitching coach, certified athletic trainer that works with an overhead sport or an experienced coach to review your mechanics. Often times a slight adjustment to your throwing mechanics can take a lot of pressure off your elbow and alleviate your pain and prevent any further injury. Once you return to throwing a good warm-up is key. Start with warming up your shoulder and elbow with a hot pack or simply with some low resistance high repetition tubing exercises. Next perform a good stretch to the elbow and shoulder to correct any discrepancies. Finally ease back into throwing, focus on your mechanics and take it easy until you build your strength back.
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