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Rotator Cuff Tears in Baseball Players

Updated: May 5, 2022

Why Do Baseball Players Tear Their Rotator Cuffs?

Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common shoulder injuries, as I discussed in my previous blog post. In it, I covered the anatomy, causes, and basic rehabilitation of a rotator cuff tear. In this post, I want to discuss rotator cuff tears as they relate to baseball players. Most of my clients are baseball players, so I wanted to look at the research to educate all of you, but also myself. A huge bonus of writing this blog has been crystallizing my own thoughts and understanding of subjects, so thank you for that opportunity. Let’s start by taking a look at why baseball players tear their rotator cuffs.

Many rotator cuff tears are due to wear and tear. Some can be from a slip and fall or a sudden tear when lifting, but a majority are from chronic stress. The prolonged stress typically occurs in older populations, but it can be expedited based on your career and activities. Manual laborers are prone to rotator cuff tears, but baseball players probably abuse their shoulders even more.

Pitchers in particular place incredible stress on their shoulders. Throwing a baseball is the fastest movement in sports and much of the force is generated by the shoulder. The rotator cuff is responsible for helping the shoulder move, but it primarily stabilizes the shoulder joint. Rapid force from throwing requires incredible strength and stability of the rotator cuff to prevent your humerus from moving too far. Too much humeral movement can wear on the shoulder joint, labrum, and other structures including the rotator cuff.

rotator cuff tear baseball player physical therapy
Dirk Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0 &l