I get this question a lot, so I decided to write a little post to answer it. Let me first say that I am not a Doctor but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express. This is a joke, if you haven't seen the commercial. My experience with pitching injuries are from my personal experiences with a few bone spurs in my elbow and a rotator cuff tear at 18 years old. I have spent countless hours in Doctor offices and with all types of physical therapists and trainers. I may not be a Doctor but I am a bit of an expert on pitching injures.
The progression of a pitching arm injury starts first with muscle pain. There are two types of muscle pain.
- Muscle Soreness
- Muscle Damage
Muscle soreness is when the pain is at an uncomfortable level but you still have your strength. When that feeling of discomfort grows more intense and evolves into muscle weakness, then this is a good sign of damage. Damage can mean a few things. Either you have a few small muscle tears or frays which is causing high amounts of inflammation, or you have a good size muscle tear. Whatever the damage, it is going to take some time to heal. Because this post is about the signs of damage, I will not go into how to heal a damaged arm in this post. I will list here some of the main side effect of muscle damage in the pitching arm.
Signs of Damage in the Pitching Arm
- Loss of Range of Motion - If you can NOT move your arm in all directions, like you could before, then this could be a sign of damage or future damage.
- Loss of Strength - If you can move your arm in all directions but you are very weak in some areas then this could be a sign of damage or future damage.
- Sharp Pain Only When Pitching - If you experience a sharp pain when your arm is abducted behind your head or fully externally rotated then this could be a sign of damage or future damage. This usually means you have an impingement which can cause serious damage to your rotator cuff.
- Big Drop in Velocity - If your velocity drops a good 10 mph then this could be a sign of damage or future damage.
If you or someone you know has experienced one of these signs then I recommend you see a Sports Medicine Doctor. Do not waste your time with a General Practitioner who has worked on very few baseball pitchers. Find someone who is experience in sports related injuries. This will save you a lot of time, money and maybe your career.