Home Baseball Content How Limited Shoulder Flexion Relates to Elbow Injuries in Pitchers

How Limited Shoulder Flexion Relates to Elbow Injuries in Pitchers

Written on August 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm, by Eric Cressey

Today, I want to introduce you to one of the screens we do with all our throwing athletes - and what the implications of "failing" this test are.  Check out this six-minute video:

If you're looking for more information along these lines, I'd encourage you to check out one of our upcoming Elite Baseball Mentorships, with events running in both October and November.

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20 Responses to “How Limited Shoulder Flexion Relates to Elbow Injuries in Pitchers”

  1. herve Says:

    Very interesting read, as usual. I am a volley-ball player and spikes seem to have a lot in common with baseball pitches (mainly the overhead part) but I’m wondering how much and what is it I need to strenthen (lats)/soften (shoulder) during the season ?

  2. Kelvin Cabrera Says:

    Great video great information. I really use and truly understand the information that your giving from a stand point of a personal trainer and strength coach. I also see the issues that occur from a baseball player stand point because I still play competitive baseball as well as professional tryouts. I always wondered and watched a lot of videos of players now in FPS very slow motion and compare to players 15 20 years ago. Its always a question of why are athletes getting hurt more than before. I really enjoy these videos and explanations. Great job man hopefully I can visit your facility one day and pick your brain.

  3. Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS Says:

    Nice segment – what was the study on shoulder flexion increasing injury by a factor of 2.8?

    Thank you.

  4. Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS Says:

    I think I found it – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24944295

  5. Eric Cressey Says:

    Yes, Greg; that’s the one.

  6. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Kelvin.

  7. Eric Cressey Says:


    What I can tell you is that the problem isn’t that the lats are “weak;” it’s that they are wildly overactive and super fibrotic. As a result, they take over for lower traps and folks substitute scapular depression for posterior tilt.

  8. Rob Jackson Says:


    Great info! I use this test quite often and am amazed how many athletes are failing at getting full shoulder flexion. In my programs I don’t let my athletes do much, if any, overhead pulling during the season to avoid cranky elbows. However, if my athletes pass the shoulder flexion test after their active rest period I immediately start putting them back into pull up variations to start to strengthen the lat. Are there precautions that you would have with this part of my programming? My athletes do use quite a bit of soft tissue work and mobility work before starting their main work.

    Thanks for any feedback!

  9. Packer53 Says:

    Very interested in this topic. As a college baseball RHP what is the best way to relieve stress from the front capsule of the shoulder and obtain maximal internal rotation?

  10. Paul Manning Says:

    I feel like this is EXTREMELY relevant to my symptoms, would you please give me a couple soft tissue/band exercises/motor pattern recruitment things I can do to remedy?? This video nails it….

  11. Eric Cressey Says:


    Try these: http://ecressey.wpengine.com/train-overhead

  12. Mark Shires, ATC Says:

    That evaluation position also reveals the magnitude of “tightness” of the lat by the amount of ER in that position.
    I have seen more and more Lat symptoms, my guess is due to trying to get action on the ball, falling to the glove side allowing for additional IR/sinking action.

  13. Jess Says:

    Do you go more into depth about this assessment in your Assess & Correct manual?

  14. Paul Manning Says:

    Thanks Eric. I’m an ex-athlete trying to fix years of bad mechanics. I have been following you since I was at Ball State for grad school in 2009. Thank you – I told my fiance that an assessment by EC is on my bucket list.

  15. Eric Cressey Says:


    Yes, this is one we cover – although Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body would be a more up-to-date option: http://www.tinyurl.com/fstupper

  16. Jess Says:

    Thanks! Do those happen to count as CEUs for an ACE PT?

  17. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Jess,

    Yes, they do deliver a bunch of NSCA CEUs – and you can petition to have them accepted base ACE.

  18. James M Says:

    Hi Eric,

    Great articles as usual. I’ve had a general question I’ve been meaning to ask regarding post-season arm recovery in relation to working out.

    More specifically, do you consider it to be more physically beneficial to let the arm rest for an extended period of time (letting it heal) before diving into improving its strength, function, etc.? A lot of pitcher are heading into the fall/winter having played for nearly 8 months now and their arms could use a break. But should that come at the cost of maybe, skipping out on upper body activities in the weight room for a few weeks, a month, etc.?

  19. Eric Cressey Says:


    A break from throwing is appropriate, but they need to get back in the weight room to take advantage of the non-throwing time to get cuff strength and scapular control back. No need to shut it down from lifting.

  20. Eric Cressey Says:


    I would just say that I’ve never seen a thrower who has “weak” lats. Most are crazy overactive. I like the idea of making them earn the right to do pull-ups, but don’t think that having a great pull-up has any correlation with staying healthy.

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