Baseball and cricket are similar and different to each other in many ways, but the two sports do have one thing in common: the team with the best throwers – pitchers or bowlers, respectively – will likely have the most success.
Legendary American baseball manager Earl Weaver once said that the key to winning baseball games is pitching, followed by fundamentals and three-run home runs. It may be a simplistic outlook on baseball, but it just goes to show how crucial pitchers are in the sport.
The same may be said about bowlers in cricket. Famed British-Pakistani bowling coach and former cricketer Azhar Mahmood believes that “batsmen win you games, bowlers win you tournaments.”
Pitchers and bowlers are arguably the most important players in their respective sports, and they have the most impact on whether their team wins or loses. This is why major sporting clubs invest so much money in these types of athletes, as striking out the other team’s batters means certain victory! Therefore, it is imperative that throwing athletes take great care of their shoulders.
What makes a great throwing athlete?
Is it enough for a pitcher or a bowler to have a strong arm? From cricket to baseball, these are, in general, some techniques of high-velocity power throwers:
- Good balance (a requirement for most athletes)
- Good arm action (consistent arm path with a continuous loose motion)
- A good cocking position (their fingers on top of the ball)
- A good external rotation of the shoulder (good pitchers tend to have a tremendous rotation of their shoulder – at least 170 degrees before accelerating)
- Good shoulder flexibility – the torso is arched as hips and shoulders horizontally rotate
- A good hip, trunk and shoulder rotation – all three must be flexible so the upper body is released like a spring to create monumental force
- A good arm extension and deceleration – connected to having flexible shoulder rotation
These may sound quite technical, but we can deduce that the common denominator in all this is a good, flexible shoulder.
Common injuries for a throwing athlete
Needless to say, shoulders are a pitcher’s or bowler’s biggest investment, and sports teams spend a tremendous amount of money hiring medical sport professionals to take care of their players’ shoulders. Dr. Mike Reinold, senior medical adviser for the Chicago White Sox, says that it is important that pitchers know when they’ve peaked in their output in order to avoid over-training the shoulders.
Throwing athletes often subject their shoulders to repetitive stress and movement, leading the joint to a wide range of pain and injuries. Shoulder pain in athletes usually involves the rotator cuff. When a player overworks their muscle or tendon, it can become inflamed. The rotator cuff is commonly irritated in pitchers and bowlers, resulting in tendinitis.
Common symptoms of shoulder pain include:
- A deep pain in the shoulder that often extends down the arm.
- A lack of strength when throwing or when doing a throwing motion (also known as “dead arm”).
- Oftentimes, the pain can come when at rest or during the night.
How to best treat shoulder pain
The good news is that most shoulder pain does not necessarily require surgery. Most can be treated with rest, ice therapy and rehabilitation exercises.
It is suggested that at the first phase of symptoms, the earliest treatment phase would be to apply the RICE method on the shoulders:
R – Rest the shoulders. Stop all activities that involve throwing motions.
I – Ice. Apply ice therapy to the affected area.
C – Compress. The affected area should be compressed to avoid swelling.
E – Elevate the shoulders. In this case, lying down should be avoided at least when doing the RICE method.
Good ice therapy practice for hurting shoulders
Ice therapy has long been a technique used for the recovery of pitchers and bowlers’ shoulders, and not just when they have sustained pain or injury. It’s been believed that intermittent cryotherapy (Ice therapy) can improve the performance of throwing athletes.
So it’s not at all surprising to know that when a throwing injury plagues an athlete’s shoulders, ice therapy is given to them. The simple science behind this is that when we sustain injuries or pain, the affected area becomes inflamed (swelling, pain, redness). Applying ice-cold temperature to this area helps narrow the blood vessels in the area, and this will keep the swelling and inflammation down.
Cold compresses or shoulder ice packs can help reduce swelling in a pitcher or bowler’s shoulder. A shoulder ice pack should be applied for 20 minutes at a time and up to five times a day.
What’s the best ice pack for throwing athletes?
Because shoulder injuries and pain are very common in pitchers, it’s wise to invest in quality shoulder ice packs, whether you manage a sports team or are just an individual athlete.
Here are the qualities that you should look for when buying a shoulder ice pack for throwers.
It is cold, but not frozen
Pitchers and bowlers should look for a pain-relief shoulder ice pack that offers cooling, and not freezing, relief. Research has shown that the trick to healing injuries using cryotherapy is to have an ice pack that is cooling, but not freezing. This is because overdoing the temperature can lead to cellular injury and nerve damage.
The shoulder pack provides more than 20 minutes of cooling time
The amount of time that shoulders are exposed to coolness is crucial. It should not be more than 20 minutes. Ice therapy does slow down blood flow to an injury, which will reduce swelling and inflammation. However, when the injured area is overly exposed to ice therapy for too long, the continued blood flow may reduce the healing time completely.
It is important to allow the tissue to return to normal temperature before icing again, so it is important to get a shoulder ice pack that keeps a consistent cool temperature for more than 20 minutes.
This premium shoulder ice pack by Magic Gel is designed to keep the cool, healing temperature for 25 minutes, making it an ideal ice pack for throwing athletes.
Look for a flexible shoulder ice pack that does not need defrosting
Timing is crucial when giving ice therapy to hurting shoulders. Upon the onset of pain, it is recommended that the afflicted area be rested and iced immediately. There are some shoulder ice packs available that are frozen straight out of the freezer. This means you will have to soften or defrost them first so that they are flexible enough to fit around the shoulder. This is not ideal as time is lost while waiting.
More advanced ice packs like Magic Gel’s Premium Shoulder Ice Packs for pain relief are made to be flexible straight out of the freezer. This means that the pack is able to perfectly contour around the shoulders, bicep, tricep and across the neck and body.
Get a shoulder ice pack that is a perfect for pitchers and bowlers of all sizes
Pitchers and bowlers come in different sizes, and they also all throw differently. So when you’re looking for an ice pack for shoulder pain, it is important to consider one that fits everybody.
This Premium Shoulder Ice Pack has a universal fit and can be applied to both left or right shoulders.
Durability in an ice pack is important
This may seem very obvious, but it is often overlooked. Sometimes, when people look for shoulder ice packs, they are so focused on pain relief that they forget the importance of getting one that is long-lasting. You will find that there are plenty of ice packs available in the market, but many of them last only for up to five to 10 sessions.
Magic Gel’s Premium Shoulder Ice Packs are made with high-quality, hand-stitched material and products and you are ensured a minimum of two years of safe, leak-free use from the gel packs. They are reusable for up to five years, making them a great investment for athletes and sport teams. This product is also stocked by pharmacies, health clubs and surgical centres, so you know that you are getting professional-grade care at home.
When you’re an athlete or managing a sports team, it’s not just important to be able to play a good game. You also should be able to play the game of treating injuries wisely so you or your players can get back on the field stronger and ready for the season.
Are you an athlete or a sports-enthusiast and have been affected by shoulder pain or injury? If you have any questions about pain relief or would like to share your experience, please feel free to send us a message!