Baseball/softball is a sport that requires a great deal of skill, strength, and coordination. Baseball players often train extensively to develop these abilities but even with the best training and conditioning, injuries can still occur. One common injury location among baseball players is medial elbow, which can be debilitating and frustrating for our athletes.
What is Medial Elbow Pain?
Elbow pain is a common problem among overhead athletes, leading to difficulty playing their position, decreased velocity, hesitation to make a throw. They place a lot of stress on their elbows, which can lead to inflammation, pain, and injury. Pitchers and Catchers tend to have the highest rate of injury due to the high volume of throwing their position demands.
Common Causes of Medial Elbow Pain
This pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, improper throwing mechanics, or as a protective mechanism for ligamentous injury. Overuse is a common cause of elbow pain in these athletes, as a repetitive throwing and swinging motions can lead to micro tearing in the tendons and ligaments of the elbow joint. Improper throwing mechanics, such as consistent alteration of arm angles and leading with the elbow can also contribute to the pain.
The most common type of elbow pain among baseball players is known as medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow. This condition occurs when the tendons that attach to the inner elbow become inflamed or damaged due to overuse or injury. Symptoms of medial epicondylitis include pain, tenderness, and swelling on the inside of the elbow. Throwers will feel this as they are progressing from late-cocking stage through acceleration during the act of throwing.
Exercises to Help Reduce Medial Elbow Pain
Give these three exercises a try the next time you have elbow discomfort after a bout of throwing:
1: Closed chain wrist flexor stretch:
- Stay gentle with this, the goal is to maintain available motion vs force into an intense stretch. Too aggressive and the tendons can become irritated.
2: Spherical Grip Isometrics
- Goal of 5 sets of 45 second holds. Choose a challenging weight for this.
3: Banded Pronation:
- Choosing a weight that challenges the tissue to the level of 4/10 discomfort after 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
Reducing the Likelihood of Medial Elbow Pain
Prevention is key when it comes to our athletes. Proper conditioning and training can help reduce the risk of injury, and supplementing these three exercises is a great step towards prevention of future elbow pain.
At Onward, we understand that 100% prevention may not be in the cards, but what we pride ourselves on is timely intervention with treatment methods ensured to get you back on the field with as little missed time as possible!
Taylor Comford, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS, Cert-CMFA
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Onward Physical Therapy