With the recent trend in indoor facility development, the seasons for baseball and softball can begin sooner than in past years. This allows for a longer season and for improved preparation for when the weather allows outdoor practices and games.

This change in season also signifies the transition between off-season training and pre-season training. With many sports now increasing to nearly year-round practices or competition, there are some risks that need managing as well.

An increase in season length for any sport will bring an increase in the sport specific demands placed on the participating athletes. This certainly applies to the elbows and shoulders of baseball and softball players. Research has shown a correlation between increased length of competitive season and the number of elbow and shoulder injuries related to throwing.


With this in mind, it is critical for baseball and softball players to be physically prepared for the demands placed on their arms. This includes proper throwing mechanics, but also a good off season strength and conditioning program, proper nutrition, and if necessary, evaluation and treatment of injuries by a sports medicine professional.

As practice begins, many players are dusting off their gloves and awakening their throwing arm from a two or three month hiatus. Care should be taken to gradually increase the throwing load, giving the body adequate time to adapt to the demands of throwing.  Too much volume or intensity of throwing too soon has the potential to cause injuries, which may linger throughout the playing season.

The initial throwing phase can be troublesome if the proper steps are not followed. Soreness in the early part of the season that lingers or progresses throughout the spring and summer months can be difficult to overcome.

With that in mind, here are some tips for avoiding arm trouble in the early part of the season:

  1. Prior to playing catch, complete a 5-10 minute dynamic warm up including general exercises for both upper and lower body.
  2. Listen to your arm. If you notice some lingering soreness the next day, go through a longer dynamic warm up. If your arm is still sore, throwing that day could be detrimental.
  3. Focus early throwing on proper mechanics. Poor mechanics can lead to problems in the shoulder or elbow later in the season.

As the season progresses, athletes may have difficulty deciphering the difference between a normal amount of soreness and what may turn into a more serious, debilitating condition. Problems are more likely to occur when overhead athletes continue to throw – even when their arm may be sore or painful. This can result in them being unable to throw a ball without experiencing pain.

Deciding when to pursue an evaluation by a specialist can be a difficult task for any athlete. Generally speaking, if you are suffering from aches or pains and it limits your ability to complete any physical activity that is part of your daily life or sport; it’s time to pursue an evaluation by a qualified and knowledgeable health care provider. This includes physicians and physical therapists with specialized training and experience to treat your condition.

Sanford offers this specialized instruction from our physical therapist experienced in the treatment of athletes, the Return to Performance program, and the POWER program supervised by a strength and conditioning specialist.

Let us help you get the most out of your spring and summer season this year by keeping you safe and helping you maximize your performance.