365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Softball Shoulder

So I am sure that all of you have heard of “tennis elbow”…. it’s basically tendinitis in your elbow caused by a bunch of repetitive motion… like swinging a tennis racket over and over. Well… I am staring to believe in something similar that I am calling “Softball Shoulder”.

About two years ago at the end of my fall ball season I was playing out in Right Field and I charged a ground ball that got through the infield. I fielded it cleanly and was aiming for a tag out play at home plate. At that time that was a throw I could make… at least on one bounce. But that particular day I felt something in my shoulder pop as I threw the ball. The throw got off ok (but we didn’t get the out) but my shoulder was done. Thankfully it was the last inning so I didn’t go back out in the field. As most athletes would do I alternated ice and heat on my shoulder for a few days and it started to feel better. About a week later I started my volleyball season and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hit because of my shoulder. Turns out that didn’t bother me at all. I thought all was good with my arm and that I’d just tweaked something with that last throw that was now all rested up and just fine.

I played volleyball every week until March or so with no problems at all. The spring following that game when I heard my shoulder pop a bit I was back on the field. In our first game I warmed up and everything was going really well. I was playing second base and for the first couple of innings I didn’t get much action. All of a sudden though I needed to shoot for a double play throw from second to first. Assuming everything was fine I turned the threw the ball hard to first. Fire ripped through my shoulder (and shocked the hell out of me). Ever since then I randomly feel the same kind of pain when I am throwing the ball. It doesn’t bother me at all doing anything else. Just when I throw the softball (with some amount of power and strength behind it).

A few months ago I was at the chiropractor and I asked him if he could check out my shoulder and offer any thoughts about what could be going on. He moved me through a few stretches and checked the range of motion in my shoulder and then announced that he was pretty sure I have tendinitis in my shoulder… and that throwing a softball is just aggravating it. I had stopped playing volleyball in favor of focusing on climbing and since my shoulder didn’t hurt while climbing I really didn’t think anything of it…. But softball… that was starting to hurt a lot. Dr. B said that climbing wasn’t helping my shoulder but that the real culprit was throwing…. that the only way for it to get better was to take a break from the game.

Of course, this season I am playing on TWO teams (with my BF) and softball is a game I’ve played religiously since I was about 11. I am not sure it’s something I can stop doing. I think I would miss it too much. So I continue to ice and heat my shoulder. I’ve been trying to change the way I throw to find a ‘spot’ that doesn’t hurt but still allows me to play. I’ve also been staying away from positions that require me to make that long hard throw. Still… there are more moments when it hurts than not. This morning my BF and I went out to the park and tossed the ball around for a bit. He was giving me suggestions of throwing positions and motions to try. Some were definitely better than others… and I think with practice I can figure out how to throw the ball without doing more damage to my shoulder. But, the reality is that I’ve been playing since I was 11 and there is a lot of muscle memory built into my arm. During a game situation I revert to my instincts and stop thinking about how I am throwing… which means I throw and it hurts. I am not sure that I am playing ENOUGH to change that muscle memory.

So, I guess for the rest of this season I need to deal with the “Softball Shoulder” and try not to make it any worse. Then over the fall and winter I can do some strengthening exercises and see if I can get it to a state where throwing doesn’t hurt as much…. if it still hurts next season I may have to cut down my play time… and perhaps increase my coaching time. That would make me very sad… and I hope isn’t the case… But I don’t want my shoulder to get worse and have that pain start to creep into other activities and other parts of my life. Time to do something about it.


May 28, 2011 Posted by | Random | , , , , | Leave a comment