Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Reduce Rotator Cuff Pain in Baseball?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that wrap around the upper arm to keep it in the shoulder socket. Baseball players often deal with rotator cuff pain and injuries. According to a webpage on the Brown University website, all baseball players are susceptible to rotator cuff pain because of the force exerted by the arm and the repetitive overhand throwing motion.
According to Dr. Andy Harmon, the most common cause of rotator cuff pain from throwing is overuse. Other potential causes include poor throwing mechanics or technique and individual predisposition. Harmon says that the rotator cuff is under tremendous stress during the deceleration phase in addition to the cocking and acceleration phase. Certain throwers may not be able to handle these stresses and Harmon notes that in some throwers the rotator cuff muscles can be pinched during these throwing phases, leading to pain.
Types of Injuries
Rotator cuff pain can come from a variety of injuries, which can lead to different treatments because of their severity. According to Harmon, tendinitis refers to swelling and pain in the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder. A rotator cuff tear is the most severe injury and involves muscles and tendons being torn in the shoulder. Harmon says that rotator cuff impingement syndrome happens when the tendons of the cuff are pinched, which can be a cause of rotator cuff tendinitis.
Except for severe tears, non-surgical treatments are first used when dealing with most cases of rotator cuff injuries. For non-surgical cases, rest, ice and pain medication can be used to reduce swelling and pain. After pain and swelling are relieved, physical therapy treatments are used to strengthen and help prevent further injury. According to the AAOS, cortisone injections are sometimes used for injuries that do not respond to rest and therapy.
The best way to prevent rotator cuff pain is to limit overuse, meaning throwers should adhere to a specific throwing program, including pitch counts and designated rest days. In addition, Harmon notes that players should never throw through pain, because that can be the cause of further and more severe injuries. Harmon also recommends a stretching and strengthening program for the rotator cuff muscles that not only helps prevent injury but can improve performance.

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