Why Does My Elbow Hurt While Throwing a Baseball? Why it Hurts & What to Do About It

By: Dr. Eric Oberst

As summer approaches, it’s increasingly looking like we might see a return to baseball. As youth travel leagues have started at ever-earlier ages, we’ve seen many athletes shift from multi-sport, multi-season athletes to single-sport athletes. The cost of this approach: it seems we’re seeing more overuse injuries at younger ages. This leads us to today’s blog question: Why does my elbow hurt while throwing a baseball? 

While the simple answer may be to decrease the number of games, pitches, and have more time off throughout the year, it doesn’t solve why your elbow began to hurt in the first place. The reality is that most elbow “problems” you experience while throwing a baseball are actually elbow “results.”

Let’s unpack that last statement. While it may be true that your elbow hurts while throwing and you certainly feel it as an elbow problem, the reality is often that you have limited range of motion or muscle flexibility elsewhere in your body. These issues result in increased stress through the elbow during the windup/cocking phases or follow-through phase of a pitch.

For example, if you are lacking internal rotation in your shoulder, you’ll be limited in your ability to follow through on the back side of the pitch. One way your body can compensate for this is to increase forearm rotation, which can put increased stress through the outside of the elbow. Similarly, if you are lacking hip or trunk rotation, you may not be able to complete your windup and cocking phases of the pitch. One way your body may adapt to this restriction is by developing hypermobility (and thus pain) at the inside of your elbow. While rest, NSAIDS, or even massage to the irritated tissues may help relieve your pain, it doesn’t help solve why your elbow began hurting in the first place.

If you’re concerned about about elbow pain for yourself or your student athlete while throwing, call one of Body One Physical Therapy’s three north side locations: North Indy/Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville. A full body assessment with one of our skilled and caring physical therapists can identify limitations or issues in your body that can be causing or contributing to your elbow problem – and provide the solution. Don’t head into another season with pain, call Body One today and get off the bench!