Can Stretching Help Save Your Shoulder?
I wanted to tell you a story of a close friend of mine. He was an all star short stop in high school and was offered a full ride scholarship to a private school. He had quite an arm that the coach wanted to convert him into a pitcher. He was feeling some elbow pain during the middle inning of one of his games. Then the next instant, he felt a snap in his elbow. He was diagnosed with an ulnar collateral tear. A month later, he needed Tommy John surgery. He ended up losing his scholarship as the team needed to replace his position. The school would not even pay for him to complete the semester
This is a common story. You feel fine until you are not with rotator cuff and ulnar collateral injuries so common in baseball. It can be life altering. In his case, it was devastating as it meant losing a full ride scholarship. It was a fork in the road for his career both baseball and academically.
But what can be done to prevent these injuries?
Pitch count? yes but only helpful if the coaches really stay conservative with them to give the arm more recovery time to repair any micro damage.
Strengthening? Yes, you need to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and core muscles
Mechanics Training? Yes, pitchers and overhead athletes need to know the proper sequencing to maximize forces and avoid compensations.
But what about Stretching? How many baseball players know how to stretch their shoulders appropriately?
According to the study by Shitara, et al 2017, there was a significant improvement in outcomes and injury prevention with baseball players that performed stretches on a daily basis. See below the abstract and excerpts of the article. Hmmm, daily stretching can be career saving....