An interesting theory was floated last month about just what, exactly, causes so much damage to pitchers’ elbows over the course of their careers. Conventional wisdom has long held that the problem is simple overuse: after thousands of pitches thrown in games and countless more in practice, the mechanics of the elbow can begin to break down under constant exertion.
But what if the problem is just one pitch? That’s the theory of one writer, who believes the the curveball is uniquely accountable for a generation of injured elbows:
When a pitcher supinates his forearm (turning his palm up) as he violently throws the baseball, he is placing a lot of stress on his medial elbow. The UCL is absorbing this stress and keeping the ulnar and humeral bones from unhinging as the arm is going forward with a supinated forearm. Too much repetitive high stress is breaking down the UCL.
It is an intriguing notion, but the only way to know for sure would be to alter or eliminate this motion in favor of a less damaging one and see how many pitchers experience a clear difference in symptoms.
If you or your child is a competitive pitcher, it is never too early to care for the elbow and shoulder ligaments that every good athlete depends on. Contact my San Diego pediatric orthopedic practice today to set up a close evaluation with the best sports medicine experts in California.
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