Home Posts tagged "Pitching Workout Programs" (Page 2)

Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong: Eric Cressey’s Best Articles of 2010

Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better - This was obviously my biggest project of 2010.  I actually began writing the strength and conditioning programs and filming the exercise demonstration videos in 2009, and put all the "guinea pigs" through the four-month program beginning in February.  When they completed it as the start of the summer rolled around, I made some modifications based on their feedback and then got cracking on writing up all the tag along resources.  Finally, in September, Show and Go was ready to roll.  So, in effect, it took 10-11 months to take this product from start to finish - a lot of hard work, to say the least.  My reward has been well worth it, though, as the feedback has been awesome.  Thanks so much to everyone who has picked up a copy.

Optimal Shoulder Performance - This was a seminar that Mike Reinold and I filmed in November of 2009, and our goal was to create a resource that brought together concepts from both the shoulder rehabilitation and shoulder performance training fields to effectively bridge the gap for those looking to prevent and/or treat shoulder pain.  In the process, I learned a lot from Mike, and I think that together, we brought rehabilitation specialists and fitness professionals closer to being on the same page.

Why President Obama Throws Like a Girl - A lot of people took this as a political commentary, but to be honest, it was really just me talking about the concept of retroversion as it applies to a throwing shoulder - with a little humor thrown in, of course!

Overbearing Dads and Kids Who Throw Cheddar - This one was remarkably easy to write because I've received a lot of emails from overbearing Dads asking about increasing throwing velocity in their kids.

What I Learned in 2009 - I wrote this article for T-Nation back at the beginning of the year, and always enjoy these yearly pieces.  In fact, I'm working on my 2010 one for them now!

What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Training Success - I wrote this less than a month out from my wedding, so you could say that I had a good frame of reference.

Baseball Showcases: A Great Way to Waste Money and Get Injured - In case the title didn't tip you off, I'm not much of a fan of baseball showcases.

Cueing: Just One Piece of Semi-Private Training Success - Part 1 and Part 2 - These articles were featured at fitbusinessinsider.com.  I enjoy writing about not only the training side of things, but some of the things we've done well to build up our business.

Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way - This might have been the top post of the year, in my eyes. My job is very cool.

How to Attack Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry - Here's another fitness business post.

Want to Be a Personal Trainer or Strength Coach?  Start Here. - And another!

The Skinny on Strasburg's Injury - I hate to make blog content out of someone else's misfortune, but it was a good opportunity to make some points that I think are very valid to the discussion of not only Stephen Strasburg's elbow injury, but a lot of the pitching injuries we see in youth baseball.

Surely, there are many more to list, but I don't want this to run too long!  Have a safe and happy new year, and keep an eye out for the first content of 2011, which is coming very soon!

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Weight Training For Baseball: Best Videos of 2010

I made an effort to get more videos up on the site this year, as I know a lot of folks are visual learners and/or just enjoy being able to listen to a blog, as opposed to reading it.  Here are some highlights from the past year: The Absolute Speed to Absolute Strength Continuum - Regardless of your sport, there are valuable take-home messages.  I just used throwing velocity in baseball pitchers as an example, as it's my frame of reference.

Should Pitchers Overhead Press? - This was an excerpt from Mike Reinold and my Optimal Shoulder Performance seminar (which became a popular DVD set for the year).

Shoulder Impingement vs. Rotator Cuff Tears - Speaking of Mike, here's a bit from the man himself from that seminar DVD set.

Thoracic and Glenohumeral Joint Mobility Drills - The folks at Men's Health tracked me down in the lobby at Perform Better in Providence and asked if I could take them through a few shoulder mobility drills we commonly use - and this was the result.

Cressey West - This kicks off the funny videos from the past year. A few pro baseball players that I program for in a distance-based format created this spoof video as a way of saying thank you.

Tank Nap - My puppy taking a nap in a provocative position.  What's more cute?

Matt Blake Draft Tracker - CP's resident court jester and pitching instructor airs his frustrations on draft day.

1RM Cable Horizontal Abduction - More from the man, the myth, the legend.

You can find a lot more videos on my YouTube page HERE and the Cressey Performance YouTube page HERE.

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Weight Training for Baseball: Featured Articles

I really enjoy writing multi-part features here at EricCressey.com because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it's like writing a book.  Here were three noteworthy features I published in 2010: Understanding Elbow Pain - Whether you were a baseball pitcher trying to prevent a Tommy John surgery or recreational weightlifter with "tennis elbow," this series had something for you. Part 1: Functional Anatomy Part 2: Pathology Part 3: Throwing Injuries Part 4: Protecting Pitchers Part 5: The Truth About Tennis Elbow Part 6: Elbow Pain in Lifters

Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture - This series was published more recently, and was extremely well received.  It's a combination of both quick programming tips and long-term modifications you can use to eliminate poor posture. Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 1 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 2 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 3 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 4

A New Paradigm for Performance Testing - This two-part feature was actually an interview with Bioletic founder, Dr. Rick Cohen.  In it, we discuss the importance of testing athletes for deficiencies and strategically correcting them.  We've begun to use Bioletics more and more with our athletes, and I highly recommend their thorough and forward thinking services. A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 1 A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 2 I already have a few series planned for 2011, so keep an eye out for them!  In the meantime, we have two more "Best of 2010" features in store before Friday at midnight. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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More Than Just Pitching Mechanics: The Skinny on Stephen Strasburg’s Injury

Since a lot of folks reading this blog know me as "the baseball guy," I got quite a few email questions about the elbow injury Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg experienced the other day.  Likewise, it was the talk of Cressey Performance last Friday - and got tremendous attention in the media.  Everyone wants to know: how could this have been prevented?

strasburg

On Thursday's edition of Baseball Tonight, my buddy Curt Schilling made some excellent points about Strasburg's delivery that likely contributed to the injury over time.  Chris O'Leary has also written some great stuff about the Inverted W, which is pretty easily visualized in his delivery.

invertedw

The point I want to make, though, is that an injury like this can never, ever, ever, ever be pinned on one factor.  We have seen guys with "terrible mechanics" (I put that in quotes because I don't think there is such a thing as "perfect mechanics") pitch pain-free for their entire careers.  Likewise, we've seen guys with perfect mechanics break down.  We've seen guys with great bodies bite the big one while some guys with terrible bodies thrive.

The point is that while we are always going to strive to clean things up - physically, mechanically, psychologically, and in terms of managing stress throughout the competitive year - there is always going to be some happenstance in sports at a high level.  As former Blue Jays general manager JP Ricciardi told me last week when we chatted at length, "you've only got so many bullets in your arm."

Strasburg used up a lot of those bullets before he ever got drafted, so it's hard to fault the Nationals at all on this front.  In fact, from this ESPN article that was published when the team thought it was a strain of the common flexor tendon and not an ulnar collateral ligament injury (requiring Tommy John surgery), "Strasburg has told the team he had a similar problem in college at San Diego State and pitched through it."  It's safe to assume that the Nationals rule out a partial UCL tear in their pre-draft MRIs, but you have to consider what a common flexor tendon injury really means.

medialepicondyle

As I wrote in in my "Understanding Elbow Pain" series (of interest: Anatomy, Pathology, Throwing Injuries, and Protecting Pitchers) the muscles that combine to form the common flexor tendon are the primary restraints - in addition to the ulnar collateral ligament - to valgus stress.  If they are weak, overused, injured, dense, fibrotic, or whatever else, more of that stress is going on that UCL - particularly if an athlete is throwing with mechanics that may increase that valgus stress (the Inverted W I noted above) - the party is going to end eventually.  Is it any surprise that this acute injury occurred just a few weeks after Strasburg dealt with a shoulder issue that put him on the disabled list for two weeks?  The body is a tremendously intricate system of checks and balances, and it bit him in the butt.

There are other factors, though.  As a great study from Olsen et al. showed, young pitchers who require surgery "significantly more months per year, games per year, innings per game, pitches per game, pitches per year, and warm-up pitches before a game. These pitchers were more frequently starting pitchers, pitched in more showcases, pitched with higher velocity, and pitched more often with arm pain and fatigue. They also used anti-inflammatory drugs and ice more frequently to prevent an injury."  And, they were also taller and heavier.

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Go back through the last 12-15 years of Stephen Strasburg's life and consider just how many times he's ramped up for spring ball, summer ball, fall ball, and showcases - only so that he can shut down for a week, just to ramp right back up again to try to impress someone else.  Think of how many radar guns he's had to pitch in front of constantly for the past 5-7 years - because velocity is all that matters, right?

Stephen Strasburg's injury wasn't caused by a single factor; it was a product of many.  And, it can't be pinned on Strasburg himself, any of his coaches or trainers, or any of the scouts that watched him.  Blame it in the system that is baseball in America today.

We already knew that this system was a disaster, though.  Yet, people still keep letting their kids go to showcases in December.  Heck, arguably the biggest underclassmen prospect event of the year - the World Wood Bat Tournament in Jupiter, FL - takes places at the end of October.  When they should be resting, playing another sport, or preparing their bodies in the weight room, the absolute best prospects in the country are pitching with dead, unprepared arms just because it's a convenient time for scouts and coaches to recruit - because the season is over.

They're wasting their bullets.

Now, I'm not saying that Strasburg's injury could have been avoided in a different system - but I'd be very willing to bet that it could have been pushed much further back - potentially long enough to allow him to get through a career.  An argument to my point would be that if it wasn't for all these exposures, he wouldn't have developed - but my contention to that fact was that it is well documented that Strasburg "blew up" from a good to an extraordinary pitcher with increased throwing velocity when he made a dedicated effort to getting fit when he arrived at college.

My hope is that young pitchers will learn from this example and appreciate that taking care of one's body is just as important as showing off one's talent.

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Friday the 13th: Muscle Imbalances, Stiffness, & Increasing Throwing Velocity

1.  I just realized that it's Friday the 13th.  Hopefully that epiphany doesn't jinx this blog and make it suck.  Prepare yourself either way.

epiphany

2. In case you missed it earlier this week, today is the last day you can save $50 off of Muscle Imbalances Revealed, a discount that is only in place for my readers through THIS LINK. As I noted in my Muscle Imbalances Revealed product review earlier this week, it's an excellent product and worth every penny. The sale lasts through tonight at midnight only.

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3. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I'm a huge advocate of soft tissue work based on anecdotal evidence.  This week, however, I want to direct you to a great "case study" guest blog by physical therapist Trevor Winnegge over at Mike Reinold's blog.  Trevor writes about the importance of soft tissue release following SLAP 2 repairs.  This is great information for both clinicians and those looking to be advocates for themselves following shoulder injuries, so definitely check it out. 4. Check out this excellent blog post from Bret Contreras on stiffness.  A lot of folks think that being stiff is always a bad thing, but as Bret shows, there is a time and a place for everything - and it's crucial for successful athletic performance. 5. Cressey Performance athlete Andrew Chin had a nice interview published at ESPN Boston the other day, and talks about his training at CP in some detail. Check it out: Player Perspective: Andrew Chin.

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5. Tony's out of town for a lovely romantic weekend with his significant other.  He's planning to serenade her, so we did a little trial run at Cressey Performance the other night.  I think he did pretty well:

Hey, it beats techno, right?

6. One of my goals for the rest of 2010 is to really kick up the video content here at EricCressey.com.  To that end, I am tentatively planning a video series for the blog that is all about exercise technique and how we teach certain lifts.  I'm looking for ideas: what drills/exercises/lifts have been a struggle for you to learn?  Please post some suggestions as comments below and you might see it in this blog in the next few months with a ton of detail.  Thanks in advance for your ideas!

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The #1 Cause of Inconsistent Pitching Velocity

As anyone who reads my posts regularly surely knows, I've devoted a significant portion of my life to figuring out how to make guys throw baseballs faster.  Sure, having a great change-up and a filthy curveball is nice, but let's be honest: throwing gas is what gets scouts' attention and earns you fame, fortune, chicks, scholarships, and, of course, intimidation on the mound.

However, my interest in velocity isn't just limited to how to get to "X" miles per hour; it also extends to understanding how to stay (or improve upon) "X" miles per hour over the course of a single appearance, season, or career while staying healthy and developing the rest of one's pitching arsenal.  Erratic radar gun readings are as much a problem as "insufficient" radar gun readings.

My foremost observation on this front has been that velocity is much more erratic in high level teenagers than any other population. At Cressey Sports Performance, we've had loads of high school guys top the 90mph mark over the years, so we've built up a good sample size to consider.  While some of these guys are quite consistent, I find that they tend to have more 4-6mph drop-offs here and there than any other population with which I've worked.  A guy that is 90-94 on one day might come back at 85-87 five days later - seemingly out of the blue.

However, I don't think it's just a random occurrence.  Rather, in my experience, EVERY single time it happens, it's because he has let his body weight drop - usually due to being on the road for games and not packing enough food.  We see it all the time in kids who throw great up in New England, but then head down South for tournaments.  All of a sudden, they are living out of hotels and eating out of restaurants multiple times per day - which certainly isn't going to be as conducive to maintaining body weight as "grazing" around the house and chowing down on Mom's home-cooking multiple times per day.  To make matters worse, a lot of kids lose their appetites when they get out in the heat - and not many people from across the country are prepared for the weather in Georgia or South Carolina in July.  So, insufficient caloric intake becomes completely inadequate caloric intake - and that's not exactly a recipe for throwing the baseball faster.

tiny-breakfast

Beyond just the body weight factor, though, you also have to look at the fact that the advanced teenage pitchers are generally also the best athletes - so their coaches almost always have them out in the outfield or at SS/3B when they aren't pitching.  Playing a position interferes with a solid throwing program and just doesn't give a kid a chance to rest. There are more calories burned, too!

What's interesting, though, is that kids who don't throw as hard - say, 70-82 - never have variability in their velocity readings; they are super consistent.  Why? Well, for one, they usually aren't quite good enough to get on travel teams and in competitive scenarios that would require them to have to consciously consider how to maintain their weight.  Rather, it's Mom's home-cooking all the time - so it's easier to maintain their weight.  And, they may not be talented enough to be able to play other positions when they aren't pitching.

This difference is really interesting because both populations - independent of strength and conditioning - are at ages where their bodies are changing and (presumably) getting heavier naturally as they go through puberty and gain muscle mass.  As this picture shows, however, their strength coaches are apparently getting shorter and balder at the same time!

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This rarely applies to anyone who has pitched in the professional ranks for more than a year or two.  You never see a professional pitcher go out and throw 5-7mph slower than normal unless he is hurt or coming back on very short rest.  These guys have found their "set points," and have learned over the years how to get in enough calories when on the road (out on their own means cooking for themselves, plus eating whatever their clubhouse dues gets them at the park).  Plus, they aren't playing the field.

All that said, regardless of your age, experience level, and current velocity, don't skimp on calories.  If you look at every bit of research on the pitching motion, body weight predicts pitching velocity. If you're on the road, make sure you pack some shakes, trail mix, bars, fruit, nuts, jerky, or whatever other convenience food helps you to get in the calories you need to light up the radar gun.  I love Precision Nutrition as a resource on this front.  It doesn't just help you to eat healthy foods; it helps you with strategies to make getting in enough qualities calories conveniently when you may be pinched for time or kitchen access.

precision_nutrition

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Stuff You Should Read: 7/28/10

Here is this week's list of recommended reading: Push-ups for Baseball Pitchers - The why, how, and when. The Truth About Leg Extensions - I just remember this article being really fun to write - mostly because I knew I'd get a lot of hate mail about it.  I was right about that. Simple Asymmetry Fixes - It might be easier than you think! Please enter your email below to sign up for our FREE newsletter.
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Random Tuesday Thoughts: 7/27/10

1. I haven't done a "Random Friday Thoughts" blog in a while, so in the spirit of randomness, I thought I'd throw you a curveball and kick off the week with some Tuesday random thoughts. 2. Last week, I booked two plane tickets to Halifax, Nova Scotia for my fiancee and I.  She's a bridesmaid in a wedding up there in a few weeks, so I'll be making the trip as well.  As part of being what amounts to a "third wheel" for the weekend (the only people I know other than Anna in the entire wedding are the bride and groom), I'll have quite a bit of downtime while in the area.  Any readers out there have any suggestions for what to do in Halifax?  It's not hockey season, and I don't drink Molson, so I'm at a bit of a loss...

canada-americas-hat

Also, just out of curiosity, when did one have to sell off all his/her internal organs in order to afford a flight to Halifax?  Roundtrip airfare was over $1,500, and Air Canada followed up with an email that said, "We also mandate that you name your first child after us." 3. I wrote a guest blog for Men's Health last week; check it out: A Quick Fix for Stiff Shoulders. 4. Also on the writing note, I've written a few guest chapters lately.  The first was a strength and conditioning chapter for an upcoming pitching book for young baseball players and their parents.  The second (which is still a work in progress) is a chapter for a new IYCA project.  So far, it's coming along really well - and I'm really honored to be on-board for this with a group of really talented guys who are trying to do something very special. 5. Tonight (Tuesday), Boston Red Sox Head Athletic Trainer (and Optimal Shoulder Performance co-creator) Mike Reinold is hosting a free webinar: "What's New for 2010."  Click here for more information.

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6. Speaking of Mike, he had a great post last week about Epicondylitis and Cervical Radiculopathy.  It's a great adjunct to my "Understanding Elbow Pain" series from back in May.  If you missed it, here's a link to the sixth (final) installment (and you can link back to the previous five). 7. I realized the other day that there is one big thing I've always considered in our training programs for pitchers, but failed to mention on this blog: they need both open- and closed-chain hip mobility, as the right and left hips must rotate independently of one another during the stride to the plate. Here's a good example:

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You can see that Beckett is just short of stride foot contact here - which means that he's at just about maximal hip external rotation on the lead leg...in open chain motion.  The femur is rotating on the acetabulum.

Meanwhile, he's riding out his trailing leg...in closed chain motion.  The acetabulum is rotating on the femur.

As such, adequate mobility training for pitchers should include a combination of both open- and closed-chain drills, although I'd say that the majority should be closed-chain. 8. Today's Mike Robertson's birthday; head over to RobertsonTrainingSystems.com and show him a little love. Please enter your email below to sign up for our FREE newsletter.
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Training Schedules for Summer Baseball

Q: I've been going through some research, and your articles about training between starts, and I was wondering what kind of approach you take with college pitchers who are playing summer ball. Do you treat them as in-season and try to keep them fresh for their starts, or are you more aggressive with them since it's not their primary season? A: My answer is - as always - it depends. If you have a younger player who is weak, scrawny, and altogether physically unprepared, he is going to train hard.  The long-term benefits of that training far outweigh any short term decrements in performance (which, as I'll note in a second, can easily be attenuated markedly). If we are talking about a more advanced player for whom summer ball performance may be extremely important (e.g., an unsigned draft pick in the Cape Cod League during the summer after his junior year who is trying to get his signing bonus up), you have to treat things quite a bit differently.  And, within this category, we manage starters and relievers differently. For starters, it's pretty easy, as they generally have predictable seven-day rotations.  I outlined my thoughts with the 7-day rotation component of A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2.  Here it is: Day 0: pitch Day 1: challenging lower body lift, light cuff work Day 2: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds); upper body lift Day 3: low-Intensity resistance training (<30% of 1RM) circuits, extended dynamic flexibility circuits Day 4: full-body lift Day 5: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds) Day 6: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only (or off altogether) Day 7: pitch again

jenkins

I treat relief pitchers as if they are position players - but if we know that there is a good chance that they'll throw in the next 24-36 hours, we'll markedly drop the volume and intensity and just focus on them leaving the gym feeling "refreshed."  If they have a longer outing (more than an inning), we'll get some really good weight-room work in the next day, as we know they won't have to pitch that night.  If it's a shorter outing and they may be expected to throw two days in a row, we'll go easier (potentially even pushing things back a day). Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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Understanding Elbow Pain – Part 3: Pitching Injuries

In case you missed them, check out Part 1 (Functional Anatomy) and Part 2 (Pathology) of this series from last week.  With that housekeeping out of the way, let's move forward to today's focus: elbow injuries in throwing athletes.  I work with a ton of baseball players and I know we have a lot of not only players, but parents of up-and-coming baseball stars that read this blog - so it's a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  While my primary focus within the paragraphs that follow will be baseball, keep in mind that the many these issues can also be seen in other overhead athletes.  They just tend to be more prevalent and magnified in a baseball population. Obviously, in dealing with loads of baseball guys, I see a lot of elbow issues come through my door.  The overwhelming majority of those folks are medial elbow pain, but we also see a fair amount of lateral elbow pain. What's interesting, though, is that in a baseball population, most of these issues are purely mechanical pain; that is, the discomfort is usually only present with throwing, as it is tough to reproduce the velocities and joint positions present during overhead (or sidearm/submarine) throwing.

bradford

The question, logically, is why do some throwers break down medially while others break down laterally, or even posteriorly? In other to understand why, we first have to appreciate the demands of throwing.  And, that appreciation pretty much always leads back to the valgus and extension forces (termed valgus-extension overload by many) that combine to wreak havoc on an elbow during throwing. At late cocking - where maximal external rotation (or "lay-back") occurs - there is a tremendous valgus force of 64Nm on the elbow, according to Fleisig et al.

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As Morrey et al. determined, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) "takes on" approximately 54% of this valgus force - meaning that it's assuming about 35Nm of force on each pitch.  This is all well and good - until you realize that in cadaveric models, the UCL fails at 32Nm.

huh

If the valgus forces are so crazy that they actually exceed the UCL's tolerance for loading, why don't we just rip that sucker to shreds on every pitch?

It's because the UCL doesn't work alone.  Rather, we've got soft tissue structures (namely, the flexor carpi ulnaris and radialis) that can protect it.  This is why cadavers don't usually pitch in the big leagues.  The closest thing I've seen is 84-pound Willie McGee, but he was an outfielder.

williem

Keep in mind that it isn't just the UCL that's stressed in this lay-back position.  Obviously, the flexor-pronator mass takes a ton of abuse in transitioning from cocking to acceleration.  It's also a tremendously vulnerable position for the ulnar nerve as it tracks through some tricky territory.  That just speaks to the medial side of things; there is more to consider laterally.

You see, the same valgus force that can wreak havoc medially also applies approximately 500N on the radioulnar joint during the late cocking phase of throwing; that's about one-third of the total stress on the elbow.  In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words:

compressive-forces

So, the same forces can cause a thrower to break down in multiple areas both medially and laterally!  What usually separate the medial from the lateral folks? Let me ask you this: when was the last time you saw an 8-year old rupture his ACL?  Never. Now, when was the last time you saw an 8-year-old break a bone?  Happens all the time. This same line of reasoning can be applied to the pitching elbow.  The path of least resistance - or the area of incomplete development - will generally break down first.  As such, in a younger population, we generally see more lateral, compression-type injuries to the bones. These are your growth plate issues and Little League Elbows, usually.

llelbow

As athletes mature and the bones become sturdier, we get more muscle/tendon, ligament, and nerve issues on the medial side. This isn't always the case, of course; you'll see young kids with medial elbow pain, and experienced throwers with lateral issues as well. It generally holds pretty true, though. The issues at the cocking-to-acceleration transition would be bad enough by themselves, but there is actually another important injury mechanism to consider: elbow extension.

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This lateral area also takes on about 800N of force at the moment arm deceleration begins with elbow extended out in front as posteromedial impingement occurs between the ulna and the olecranon fossa of the humerus.  This bone-on-bone contact at high velocities (greater than 2,000 degrees/second) can lead to fractures and loose bodies within the joint. This wraps up the causative factors with respect to elbow pain in throwers - but I need to now go into further detail on the specific physical preparation and mechanical factors one needs to consider to avoid allowing these issues to come to fruition.  Stay tuned for Part 4.

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