Shoulders are the most moveable joints in the body. The shoulder joint is comprised of three bones: Clavicle (collarbone), Scapula (shoulder blade) and the Humerus (upper arm bone). The socket is smaller than the ball of the Humerus, making the joint less stable than others throughout the body.
Shoulder injuries may not be the most common on-the-job injuries, but they do keep employees out of work the longest. The average amount of time missed for a back injury is 12 days – 3- months for a shoulder injury.
Athletes are the most likely to develop a shoulder injury due to excessive, repetitive, overhead motions required for sports like swimming, tennis, weight lifting and pitching. However, those whose job requires them to routinely perform such activities as hanging curtains, painting walls, filing and gardening often suffer from constant shoulder pain.
An athlete may become so used to a certain degree of discomfort that he no longer notices it, and he may compensate for the constant weakness and limited range of motion associated with shoulder injuries. This will eventually lead to a more complicated injury.
Pain is the way our body informs us something is wrong, and the onset of new pain should never be ignored. The most common symptoms of a shoulder injury are stiff shoulder joint(s), a shoulder that feels like it could pop or slide out of its socket, and weakness in the arm(s). If you are experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist promptly to learn the severity of the problem.
Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander explained last week that a few years ago he experienced the same dead arm syndrome as Phil Hughes is currently going through. His assessment was that it was his mechanics.
"My arm felt really good; it just wasn't there," he said. "I really focused the next year in spring training and traced it all back to an arm slot issue. I got too high with my arm slot, which caused me to not have my natural whip. That's a mechanical thing." Verlander's fastball is back up to 95MPH and he's as dominant as ever. The no-hitter he threw on Saturday vs. the Toronto Blue Jays is a testament to that.
Do the Yankees believe Hughes's speed loss is a mechanical thing? If so, then why did Hughes get a cortisone injection in his rotator cuff? Maybe his poor mechanics tore up his cuff. Why is he on the DL and not working on his pitching mechanics in the minors? Have they analyzed his mechanics from before and since his velocity drop?
Clearly, there are many unanswered questions with the Yanks' #3. Let's see if his end result is as positive as the Tigers' ace.
Phil Hughes's right arm and Osama Bin Laden have something in common - they're both still dead. The Bronx Bombers' #3 starter has lost 4-5 MPH off his fastball since last season and he's been reporting that his arm doesn't feel right when he throws. The Yankees put him on the 15-day DL and shut him down a week later after a poor throwing session.
An MRI didn't reveal any structural damage and according to Yahoo Sports, Phil Hughes passed all the tests for a circulatory disorder and therefore does not have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).
So what is going on with Big Phil? Is his arm weak from throwing too many cutters? Is he overworked? What was his off-season training like? Did he throw 200 pitches a day all winter? Did he lounge on his leather couch eating Cap'n Crunch all February?
A dead arm is often caused by either tightening or hypertrophy (overgrowth) of the shoulder's rotator cuff muscles. This leads to a cascade of problems and difficulty throwing. Eventually it can cause a tear of the labrum (soft cartilage of the shoulder), requiring surgery if you're a pitcher.
Hughes is seeing an Orthopedist today. He's likely going to find that there is nothing damaged or torn in Phil's shoulder. Will he recommend rest, meds, PT?
I wonder if Hughes has been checked out by a world-class PT yet. There are plenty of them in NYC. Besides a detailed exam of the rotator cuff muscles and the bony structures that make up the shoulder, a PT would examine Phil's core strength, balance, leg strength, and technique.
Hughes may need to rest, but he also may need to find balance. I don't know for a fact, but I would bet that Phil Hughes spent his off-season working his tail off. He probably lifted and did a comprehensive strength and conditioning program. The result can be getting too strong in certain areas, affecting the proper balance between strength and flexibility in the most dynamic joint in the body. Our shoulders are very complex and at the highest level of athletics, even small dysfunctions can be exposed easily.
I hope Phil Hughes gets the proper advice, soon. I would hate for his shoulder to have the same eternal fate of OBL.
What is deadarm syndrome? How do you explain a pitcher losing 5 MPH or more in velocity? Does Yankees RHP, Phil Hughes have a dead arm? Is he done?
The shoulder is the most dynamic joint in the human body. It's also inherently unstable when the arm is lifted overhead. In the evolutionary process, the human shoulder did not develop as a machine intended to perform repeated overhead movement. It was not made to hurl a baseball over 90MPH 80-120 times on a chilly spring evening in the northeastern United States. It's a wonder so many guys actually succeed.
It is the rare individual who can perform successfully at the major league level for 5 years or longer without breaking down. How often do you hear about a star pitcher needing surgery, often at the height of his career? How many prospects do you think don't even make it that far due to injury? I've definitely met my share of HS or minor league pitching studs who can't pitch anymore due to injury.
There's not always severe pain, a pop, or a snap involved. Slight breakdown of the rotator cuff (4 muscles that control the movement of the arm in the shoulder socket) can change the way a pitcher throws, enough to take a few MPH off his heater. That can turn a Phil Hughes into an also-ran. Rehab Coordinator for the Red Sox, Mike Reinold discusses the effects of rotator cuff fatigue on shoulder mechanics.
Another theory (described in the NYDN) is that his increased use of a cutter has either strained Hughes's arm or allowed it to atrophy from not throwing as many fastballs.
Most of us have no idea how hard the great pitchers work to avoid injury and perform at the highest level. Sometimes that work is not enough. Sometimes that training is misdirected. Sometimes we just don't exactly know why the Yankees #3 starter can't hit 90 on the radar gun any more. Hughes is about to start a strengthening program for the next 2 weeks to build his velocity. Time will tell....
What do you think is wrong with Phil Hughes? Do you think his new program will help? Should he be resting more or pitching more?