The One Thing You Probably Shouldn't Do If You're Having Arm Pain - by Randy Sullivan
I had a pro client a couple of months ago with a familiar story.
He’s been through 2 Tommy John surgeries, an ulnar nerve decompression, a bone spur removal, and a labrum repair. In Ranch terms, you could say he had been “Rode hard and put away wet.”
That’s not the familiar part.
He was nearly 30 years old when I met him, so I had to admire his commitment to his dream. Most guys I know would have given up a long time ago and gotten a “real job.”
What’s really sad is that it may have all been avoided.
Before his first surgery, he was in this viscous cycle that is all too familiar for many of the throwing athletes I see.
When he first reported pain, his doctors, trainers, and coaches assumed it was due to “overuse”, so they told him to stop throwing for 6 weeks.
Of course, when he wasn’t throwing his arm felt fine...
Then when he started to ramp it up it, the pain returned.
Again, he rested and went to physical therapy.
But as soon as he started throwing again, the pain returned.
This cycle continued until finally, he had to have surgery.
16 weeks after his first Tommy John surgery, he started throwing again… with exact same biomechanical throwing pattern he had before the surgery.
Not surprisingly, his UCL tore again.
Doctors repaired it, and when he went back to throwing -- exactly the same way -- his shoulder blew.
The problem as I see it is that no one every addressed the physical and biomechanical constraints that contributed to the injury.
Let me be clear, I’m not averse to shutting it down and engaging in traditional PT when necessary.
Most of the time that will eliminate the pain, but if all you do is rest and rehab, you never change any of the variables that contributed to the injury in the first place.
Here’s what my friend Dr. Ed Fehringer, a prominent Omaha, NE orthopedist says
“As an orthopaedic surgeon that specializes in shoulder and elbow surgery, I found myself frequently judging most baseball families as delusional when I would see them in my office. Worse yet, I passed my judgments onto orthopaedic surgery residents and medical students that I was training. My answer for 95% of those with sore arms from throwing baseballs: rest. While rest and/or limited throwing helps to eliminate pain in most any arm (before a tear or cartilage or bony injury is present), both the quantity and quality with which those baseballs were being thrown are important variables to address. Rest allows one’s arm pain to diminish and heal, but going back to the same movement patterns that lead to the injury is not helpful long-term.
Dr. Fehringer brought his young son, Charlie to the Ranch on the Road Camp in Omaha, and they attended Florida Baseball Ranch's inaugural Arm Care and Elite Performance Training Camp.
Dr. Fehringer took our information and conducted a study on a group of 9 year olds to test the efficacy of our methods in changing aberrant movement patterns.
His question was in essence"Can dangerous youth baseball player movement patterns be changed to more favorable patterns using Ranch protocols? "
His results answered the question with a resounding and statistically significant "YES". He has submitted his study for publication in several peer reviewed journals.
We'll let you know as soon as it is released.
Sometimes “shutting it down” is the best medicine-- especially if you suspect structural damage, or if you can’t even raise your arm to go through the throwing motion without pain.
But sometimes stopping is the worst thing you could do.
If you're having arm pain, your first order of business must be to identify all the possible contributors, and then eliminate them through training and restorative functional movement.
Is this your pattern?
You get hurt...
You change nothing about the way you throw...
You get hurt again...
And the cycle continues.
It's time for you to take a different approach and change the way you throw.
If you don't you could be on your way to the surgeon's scalpel.
There are 3 ways you can start solving your arm pain:
1) Call us at 813-655-3342 and ask Amy to schedule you for a
2) Come to one of our Arm Care and Elite Performance Training (ACE PT) Camps. Click here to learn more.
3) Call 813-655-3342 and get registered for our incredible Summer Training Program already in progress.
See you at the Ranch,
Randy Sullivan, MPT
CEO Florida Baseball Ranch