Why Does Your Elbow Hurt After Throwing 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.
Prevention is Prosperity
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.
Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.