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Proper technique, conditioning can help prevent overhead throwing injuries Print E-mail

Sports involving overhead throwing – baseball and softball, obviously – but also movements like spiking or blocking a volleyball, throwing a javelin or serving a tennis ball – can result in serious injuries.  These are unique movements with a unique spectrum of injuries.

More professional athletes – most recently Joakim Soria, closer for the Kansas City Royals – have incurred elbow injuries requiring Tommy John Surgery, where a tendon from elsewhere in the body is grafted to reconstruct their UCL, ulnar collateral ligament. In 2012, the number of professional baseball players having this surgery will number one in seven. The procedure is growing quickly among teen athletes as well.

Aside from surgery, awareness of proper techniques for the sport as well as conditioning can help minimize the risk of injury if you, or your family member, is involved in activities with repetitive overhead throwing motions.

Injuries are compounded when there is a flaw in technique, or when you continue to play through an injury. While the first thought with an overhead throwing injury is to focus attention on your shoulder and elbow, they are actually the final link in the chain of events that generate energy to throw an object. The entire body plays a role in the motion of throwing and is at risk for injury.

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Energy generated in your lower extremities is transmitted through the torso to the upper extremity, which directs the movement of the ball. Improper throwing mechanics can be present in any of these steps. When one link in the chain of events is flawed or injured, additional stress is placed on the other parts of your body that try to make up for the deficiency.

Rehabilitation of throwing injuries focuses on the entire individual.Throwingmechanics are reviewed to identify any areas for possible improvement which may relieve undue stress on the joints. Coaches and therapists are invaluable resources to evaluate mechanics and help you make necessary adjustments.  

Specifically designed therapeutic exercises supervised by a therapist or trainer can then strengthen and stabilize the involved joints. These exercises focus on all phases of throwing and the corresponding anatomy: knees, hips, trunk, shoulders and elbow. Core strengthening is essential in your rehabilitation. Not only do the core muscles transmit energy from the lower to upper extremities, they stabilize your entire body throughout all phases of throwing.

 

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