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Pitching, wrist, shoulder, and back issues

Jan 6, 2009
Chehalis, Wa
I do not have many pitching videos, I do have some, although I gave away allot of stuff like all of Ernie Parkers stuff to beginning coaches.

I saw that someone mentioned a new video, with high frame rates, and computer analysis. That seems interesting, although I didn't know you could come up with 14 phases to a pitching motion.

I do have the RVP fastpitch pitchers on my system, although I haven't bought the instructional part for fastpitch pitching. And I still need to get back by Hillhouse video from a friend.

Anyways, many of the pitchers that I watched and knew, ended up with wrist, arm, shoulder issues. Most of them were not very big and they had to work a little harder.

Not all tall pitchers can pitch well, although Osterman and all the Olympic pitchers last year have size as well as the ability to pitch. The Pac 10 seems to go after the bigger pitchers, if not for the sole reason it's a little easier for them then a smaller pitcher.

Fastpitch in Washington really took off around 1996 as the possibilities to play at the college level or even for Team USA became more realistic.

The last pitcher, the youngest one who I knew from when she was just a kid finished college last year. She was offered to play in a European league, although she passed on it. Because by her senior year she could not lift her arm after pitching a game.

I recently heard about some new research that is saying the forces on the shoulder are as great as in the overhand pitcher, or in baseball.

Many of the pitchers, I knew, were taught an open style. And it seemed like Osterman remained more open then at anytime I've seen her pitch last year. She seemed to stay more open on every pitch, regardless of the pitch.

The girl I mentioned started staying more open in her senior year of HS. I noticed it right away. I also know who was teaching her and what she had been taught as a youngster.

Here's the issues that concerns me, one being that if you remain to open, and try to keep the shoulders more open. And you do not allow them to close naturally, that there would be some continuous jamming of the shoulder joint into the body pitch after pitch. And then there would a greater distraction force placed on the shoulder also by keeping the shoulders open, well after release.

I'm not trying to be to technical, although there are better descriptions then simple saying the shoulder is is being jammed into the body pitch after pitch. I've heard the technical version of this, but do not recall what is actually happening.

Anyways, every pitcher I know who used this style developed issues with the shoulder, arm, or wrist and a common complaint of lower back pain.

Some of it was due to being a smaller pitcher, or not being very physically strong. And in being smaller having to throw more breaking balls, with smaller hands and fingers, or because they had to throw more breaking balls because they didn't throw very fast. In which they would have to work harder because of smaller hands and fingers to make the ball break, as one pitcher said it's much easier if you can just reach back and let the ball fly (assuming you have speed)

And there's a question in my mind as to what kind of issues will girls have when they get older. As we have seen this wave and explosion of the sport happen in the last 20 years. What type of long term issues will these woman have?

Nerve damage? Shoulder issues? Hip issues, that woman are much more likely to have anyways. What will these girls experience in the work force where there is often repetitive stress placed on the body?

I know many pitchers think they must pitch almost year around and practices up to an hour, throwing pitch after pitch. Some might do this 3to 4 times a week.

Is it still believed that the underhand motion is natural and easy on the arm? And who does this apply to, someone who throws hard?, and one would assume throwing harder would also create greater forces and then taking into account the size of the player, strength, etc,. Does this same apply to the 5 ft 6 and under pitcher as to the 6 ft pitcher?

And who are we talking about, a man, or a young girl or a woman? Was a man able to pitch forever throwing underhand and therefor this carried over to a girl or woman can do the same? Because it was first a men's game, and now it's girls and woman game.

And if this is so then why do I know so many pitchers who have or did develop specific issues?

One pitcher I knew who threw allot as a youth, said it was easy to pitch at the HS and travel ball level. Although in college she was completely spent after pitching a game, (this was at a Pac 10 school) and shoulder issues keeped her from pitching a full season throughout most of her college career.

What are your thoughts on this subject?


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
Does pitching cause injury?
Repetitive motion injuries are a fact in every physical activity (e.g., "Blackberry Thumb", Writers cramp, tennis elbow, etc.) Pitching is a repetitive physical activity. Therefore, there will be injuries. There is plenty of research showing that softball pitching does cause an injury to some athletes. Hang out at after a softball game in college and you will the see pitchers icing their arms, indicating that they are trying to reduce swelling.

What causes the injury?
I doubt that throwing a fastball causes injury. The shoulder doesn't "jam" into the rest of the body.

IMHO, like baseball, the softball pitching injury comes from throwing breaking pitches. No matter what anyone says about how natural the underhand motion is, it can hardly be argued that throwing a riseball or drop ball is "natural". Throwing any breaking pitch stresses the wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder.

How sever is the injury?
The severity of the injury is probably less in softball than baseball, mainly because most pitchers quit when they graduate from high school and even more quit at the end of college. Less pitching = less repetitive stress = less injury.

Will there be long term injuries?
Remember how proud we were when Kerri Strug risked a permanent injury to her ankle in order to vault in the 1996 Olympics?

No one really cares about injuries--including the athlete. Football players are maimed regularly. Basketball players knees are destroyed. ACL injuries for women in sports are a dime a dozen. Gymnasts have more stress fractures than a Minnesota bridge.

My DD's shoulder continues to hurt 7 years after she finished college pitching. My other DD's knees hurt from college basketball. And both would do it all again if they had a chance.

The real danger is coaches, parents and athletes ignoring the injuries that do happen.


Jan 24, 2009
Assuming correct mechanics, the main points are over-use and improper care after use.
I have noticed that too many girls throw too many practice pitches.
Also, they do not stretch after a workout and do not ice their arm parts afterwards.
These are vital elements in keeping the arm healthy again assuming proper mechanics.
Static stretching before an event is also not as healthy as dynamic warmup.
Icing is not always a method for reducing swelling due to injury. It is also very good to help prevent swelling and subsequent consequences.
Y'all might want to view the Steadman-Hawkins Report on this matter.