Pitching pain and injury, along with most elbow problems come from overuse and poor mechanics. If we narrow it down to elbow pain then proper pronation is usually the determining factor. Proper pronation of the arm at release is when the thumb finishes down. Notice here in the picture of me in my last minor league season I am finishing with goo pronation.
Improper pronation at release can be the result of poor mechanics and aggressive off speed pitches. For proper pronation to occur in the throwing arm at release the pitcher must extend the arm to release. The improper release of the throwing arm which would prevent proper pronation would be to pull the arm down to release. I find this to be a major misconception in the conventional wisdom of the game. Physics proves that during the velocity phase of the throwing arm, the pivot or elbow, must remain stationary until after release. This means the elbow must extend to release to prevent the elbow from moving down during the throw. This not only supports pitching velocity but protects the elbow from resisting high amounts of deceleration forces. Extending the elbow to release also protects the rotator cuff during the deceleration of the arm. This will allow more of the back muscles to get involved during the deceleration phase.
Pitching Pain and Injury Solutions
Dr. Mike Marshal built his entire coaching career around proper pronation of the throwing arm. He even went as far as to develop and entire approach to pitching based around this throwing arm pronation. This is because he ended his Major League career with a UCL tear before the famous “Tommy John” surgery. I believe Dr. Marshall went to far with this discover of proper pronation by turning it into a style of pitching. I do believe his pitchers who use this style or approach to pitching are protecting their elbows from injury but their pitching velocity is taking a beating in return. Using the 3X approach to proper pronation pitching will occur because the 3X mechanics trains the body to finish first and the arm to extend and finish last. The picture of me here illustrates the 3X approach to proper pronation. These mechanics will increase pitching velocity and protect the elbow and shoulder from extreme abuse.
I highly recommend replacing the baseball in the 3X Velocity System throwing drills with a football, if you are having issues with finishing with proper pronation. This is because you can not throw a spiral, with the nose down, with a football, if you do not finish with proper pronation.
Off speed pitches can also cause improper pronation because the wrist is usually rotating the opposite way at release during these pitches. This combined with the misconception of pulling down to release would compound the impact on the elbow and make a pitcher more vulnerable to elbow injury. It first starts with elbow pain and then it progresses into an injury. This is exactly how my arm began to breakdown. I had poor pronation along with an addictive curveball because it was almost unhittable. After 6 shots of cortisone in my elbow and rotator cuff surgery at 18, I never threw that damn thing again. I have even tried throwing it today and I can still feel the old wound from the many years of improper pronation. This is why I recommend less aggressive breaking balls for pitchers along with proper pronation training through the 3X mechanics.