Reduce Stress on Tendons in Elbow


#1

Hi,

I have recently been diagnosed with elbow tendinitis for the second time. The first was about two years ago.

The first time, I think it was my slider, where I was twisting my hand while throwing, which lead to great movement and speed (batters did not make contact with it for the first ~6 months of throwing it, even foul tips). When I stopped doing that, it started getting better.

This time, it might be related, since I still feel like I should twist my hand when I throw it, but I do not think it is the same this time.

My two ideas right now are:

  1. overuse, frequently over 100 in-game pitches
  2. mechanics, arm has been feeling whippier recently

I’m definitely cutting back on pitching for a while, so if it is overuse, hopefully it will be solved.
But, if it is mechanics, that might not help.

Some info:
I’ve found recently that I can generate more whip (starting with my legs) when I raise my arm (though more hits I think, maybe just better opponent)
I can comfortably throw from any slot. From the field, I change based on where the ball is. However, when pitching I have often been about low 3/4 (now high 3/4 to overhand).

Any tips on reducing the stress on my elbow are appreciated. I don’t plan on going pro or anything (although it would be amazing if I could, even for 1 season), I just want to continue pitching for as long as I can (18 in college now, playing club).

tl;dr
any mechanical things that reduce elbow stress?


#2

Mechanical issues that lead to timing issues - specifically early shoulder rotation - can add stress to the elbow. Two such mechanical issues are posture issues and glove issues.

Post up some video and I’m sure folks will give you some good feedback.


#3

This is from January, and I have changed a few things, but I think its pretty close to now.

I’ll try to video myself soon and post that.


#4

Posture looks good. Sort of looks like you pull the glove back and, at least on a couple pitches, it looks like the glove may get outside your body. These things can lead to early shoulder rotation. But that’s kind of a tough camera angle to analyze from so I could be wrong. When you video yourself try to get some from the 3B side and some from home plate.

If you are pulling the glove, that will be a hard habit to change given your age and how engrained that probably is.

One thing I did notice is that you don’t get your body moving forward until at or after peak of knee lift. If you can get going sooner, that will help your timing and it will put more energy into “the system” using your lower half so the arm doesn’t have to generate it.


#5

I think you are right about the glove. I definitely do pull it down/back, and it probably does get outside frequently.

Starting forward earlier is one thing I have changed, and my velocity spiked up.
Unfortunately, I also started pulling more. Since that is a new thing, I can definitely try not to and see if it helps.

I think my recent elbow problem actually started when my velocity spiked up. I assume that it’s not because of activating legs earlier. I definitely want to do everything I can to use my legs, as I do consider them pretty strong.

Question on the early shoulder rotation:
Is early a problem relative to legs or arm? So, not enough hip/shoulder separation? Or too much shoulder/arm separation?


#6

Let me tell you one thing Eddie Lopat said to me when he was showing me how to throw a good slider—something you may have overlooked. He said,
“Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” When he showed me the wrist action I recognized immediately that I was going to have to ease up on mine; I threw my curve with a sharp karate-chop wrist action.
Also, I was a true, natural, honest-to-gosh sidearmer, and as a result I never experienced any arm or shoulder problems. You might try dropping your arm angle some and see how that feels.
And remember, however you throw, you have to get the whole body into the action. A lot of pitchers’ problems stem from their throwing with just the arm and the shoulder, so really get your legs, your hips and your torso involved. I learned this many moons ago—something I have always referred to as “The Secret”—and as a result I pitched for more than two decades with nary a sore arm or a sore shoulder or a sore elbow or a sore anything else! :baseballpitcher:


#7

[quote=“pdubs”]I think you are right about the glove. I definitely do pull it down/back, and it probably does get outside frequently.

Starting forward earlier is one thing I have changed, and my velocity spiked up.
Unfortunately, I also started pulling more. Since that is a new thing, I can definitely try not to and see if it helps.

I think my recent elbow problem actually started when my velocity spiked up. I assume that it’s not because of activating legs earlier. I definitely want to do everything I can to use my legs, as I do consider them pretty strong.[/quote]
Better use of the lower half shouldn’t lead to elbow issues - at least not directly. But putting more energy into the system could potentially magnify some other mechanical problems which, in turn, could lead to elbow issues.

[quote]Question on the early shoulder rotation:
Is early a problem relative to legs or arm? So, not enough hip/shoulder separation? Or too much shoulder/arm separation?[/quote]
Both. Early shoulder rotation reduces hip and shoulder separation. At the same time, it leaves the arm behind forcing it to play “catch up” which translates into more wear and tear on the arm.


#8

When I started using legs more, my arm also moved up. One thing I noticed was that I felt almost a shockwave through my elbow (not really sure how to describe it) which I assumed was what arm whip actually felt like, since my speed went up. It did not hurt, just felt different. Now I’m questioning that, since after that start was when my arm started hurting recently.

Is it possible that my arm just is not supposed to have a high angle?

Just to check:
I want maximum hip/shoulder separation, but shoulder/arm can cause too much stress? And I can help that by keeping shoulders closed and not let arm fall behind?


#9

Roger is right about that—one of the major causes of the problem is allowing your shoulder to fly open. You need to work on keeping that shoulder closed as long as possible, and check your release point. Also, you may be right when you say that your arm angle—your arm slot—may not be the right one for you. I would suggest that you get together with a really good pitching coach and have him watch you throw a full bullpen session—and it just could be that you need to change that arm angle. If said coach suggests that you try dropping down to a full sidearm delivery, GO FOR IT—said delivery is actually the easiest and most natural of all, and if it’s comfortable for you, stay with it. You might lose a little velocity, but what you will gain is better control and command of your pitches. I speak from experience—I was a natural, honest-to-gosh sidearmer from the get-go, and I had a wise and wonderful pitching coach who showed me how to make the most of it. Something to think about. :baseballpitcher:


#10

[quote=“pdubs”]When I started using legs more, my arm also moved up. One thing I noticed was that I felt almost a shockwave through my elbow (not really sure how to describe it) which I assumed was what arm whip actually felt like, since my speed went up. It did not hurt, just felt different. Now I’m questioning that, since after that start was when my arm started hurting recently.

Is it possible that my arm just is not supposed to have a high angle?[/quote]
That’s always a possibility - everyone is different and that’s why we see all possible arm angles across the population. But I’d be suspicious that something else was going on at the same time.

[quote]Just to check:
I want maximum hip/shoulder separation, but shoulder/arm can cause too much stress? And I can help that by keeping shoulders closed and not let arm fall behind?[/quote]
Yes, that’s generally correct. Early shoulder rotation means the shoulders start rotating before the hips have had enough time to open up. That limits the energy transfer from hips to shoulders. Early shoulder rotation also leaves the arm behind in a position that many coaches describe as “late” or “dragging”. When this happens, it is common to exert extra effort to make the arm catch up. This extra effort exerted pitch after pitch, inning after inning, game after game can eventually result in pain and even an injury.


#11

Thinking back to the day that this started, I think I felt my arm lagging. I’ll watch for that feeling and try to avoid it.

Also, if my arm is “whipping” properly, should I feel any shock in my elbow or should it just feel free/loose? Or is that one of those personal things that varies?


#12

Tough to say. Pitching is an explosive movement. And some pitchers have more violent deliveries that others. But I believe that, usually, good timing tends to smooth things out.