It is not uncommon for baseball pitchers to suffer from sore shoulder muscles in the pitching arm. Due to the repetitive nature of the movement required to throw a baseball with precision and speed, the shoulder muscles often become overstretched and overworked. Overuse, lack of proper warm-up, and poor mechanics are just a few factors that can lead to shoulder injuries that result in pain, inflammation and general soreness in and around the shoulder joint.
A pitcher's shoulder is already the loosest joint in the body, according to Dick Mills, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. When the shoulder is overused, as in throwing too many pitches in a single outing, the ligaments can become too stretched, which can lead to possible injury and related soreness. Incorrect throwing technique, failure to perform a dynamic warm-up for the muscles, and weak rotator cuff muscles are all common contributors to shoulder soreness.
Strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff to help prevent muscle soreness in your pitching arm. Standing lateral arm raises gripping a low-weight dumbbell in each hand is an example of an effective strength exercise for the rotator cuff. Increase total body flexibility, including your hip and back muscles, which also play an integral part in achieving full extension of your arm while pitching. Perform an active, or dynamic, warm-up that includes sprints, lunges, pushups and core strengthening exercises.
At the first sign of soreness or pain in the shoulder, you must rest your pitching arm. Icing is not recommended for general soreness but may be helpful if there is inflammation. Rest is the first line of defense. If soreness persists after a normal period of laying off the activity, consult a physician for a more thorough examination of the shoulder joint. Physical therapy may be recommended if the injury is extensive.
It is important to recognize the signs of overuse, overload and general fatigue during a competitive game or intense training session. As you become more fatigued and try to compensate for the pain in your shoulder, proper throwing mechanics will wane, speed and velocity will most likely be reduced and you may enhance the probability of further injury to your shoulder. Know the signs and communicate with your coach when it is time to rest your pitching arm.