You might be wondering why I chose to talk about softball pitching just before Thanksgiving. After all, it’s not the softball time of year. This just happens to be the time of year that you should be doing off season conditioning to be ready to start pitching during practice in a couple months.
You’ve probably heard people say that pitching underhand is a much more natural movement for the shoulder than throwing overhand and, therefore, injuries in softball pitchers are not common. Well, there is plenty of research that proves that this way of thinking in incorrect. While moving the shoulder underhand may be more natural, that doesn’t mean that there is not a tremendous amount of force going through the shoulder joint.
What’s The Evidence?
Studies show that softball pitching injuries are just as common as baseball pitching injuries. The difference is that softball pitching injuries tend to be less traumatic and more because of overuse. Unfortunately, overuse injuries can be just as debilitating and keep you out of competition.
Why Does The Shoulder Get Hurt?
During the windmill softball pitch, the biceps muscle is incredibly active. The biceps tendon goes up into the shoulder and attaches right near the rotator cuff tendons. The amount of force that this muscle produces day in and day out can lead to overuse which will show up as anterior shoulder pain. This is pain on the front of your shoulder and may go into your upper arm somewhat. Softball pitchers are also at risk for other shoulder and elbow overuse injuries.
How Do I Prevent Shoulder Injuries?
The best way to prevent the onset of these injuries is to participate in a good off season conditioning program followed by a gradual ramp up to full pitching. Your conditioning program should include upper body exercises for your upper back, arms and shoulders as well as exercises to improve your hip and core strength and stability.
You also need to be working appropriate rest into your softball season. Your coach should be following a pitch count and giving you enough time off to recover from your last outing. You especially need to be resting if you’re pitching for more than one team at the same time.
You should not be pitching every single game and all your teams’ batting practices too. If you play travel ball, you should not be pitching 3-4 games in one day every weekend. If you follow these guidelines, you should continue to stay healthy throughout your season and your career. Not only will they keep you healthy, but they can also improve your pitching performance.