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Back to Baseball - Physical Therapy for shoulder pain.

Published on August 12, 2015

Learn how an elite baseball player rehabbed his shoulder to get ready for the Division I NCAA season by working his core and shoulder muscles. 

Physical Therapy Treatment for Baseball Throwing Injuries

"Jake" was a competitive collegiate baseball pitcher who suffered a labral tear in his left shoulder (his throwing arm) possibly while weight lifting.  The doctor was at first unsure if Jake would require surgery to repair the tear, and wanted Jake to try to rehabilitate the shoulder with Physical Therapy first.  Understanding the throwing and pitching motion are critical to a successful return to the mound.

 At the initial Physical Therapy evaluation, Jake presented with findings consistent with labral pathology: posterior shoulder pain, scapulothoracic and glenohumeral joint weakness, decreased joint mobility and range of motion of the glenohumeral joint, and mild changes in the glenohumeral joint capsule.  He also had a moderate muscle spasm of his infraspinatus muscle.  He was unable to pitch, and was having a moderate amount of difficulty reaching behind his back and lifting ten pounds overhead.  Jake also had a moderately tight hip flexor, which prevented him from being able to throw a baseball without hip pain, or do squats or leg presses at the gym.

Jake began a comprehensive Physical Therapy program including manual treatment, neuromuscular reeducation, therapeutic exercises, and modalities to control his pain and inflammation.  Manual treatment consisted of soft tissue mobilization to his shoulder complex and hip flexors, glenohumeral joint mobilization and shoulder stretching to increase his range of motion, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and manual resistance exercises to strengthen his rotator cuff and improve his scapulohumeral rhythm, and manual stretching of his hip flexors.  Jake's therapeutic exercises included stretching and strengthening of his shoulder complex.  He was a hard worker, and was very diligent about performing his exercises in and out of the clinic.

Jake made excellent gains with therapy.  His shoulder and hip pain completely went away, his range of motion and flexibility significantly improved with diligent stretching, and his shoulder strength surpassed his pre-injury status.  Jake was able to return to a baseball training program with no shoulder or hip pain, and subsequently returned to pitching pain-free.

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