Shoulder Pain When Throwing: Causes & Treatment

Shoulder Pain When Throwing: Causes & Treatment

It was just another pitch or a throw to first base like you’ve always done. Or perhaps you tossed a football or basketball during an ordinary practice and then you felt some stiffness in your shoulder. The team at IMPACT Physical Therapy and Sports Recovery gets questions about shoulder pain when throwing every once in a while, so we’d like to give you some tips about how to handle throwing injuries.

We’ll start with some causes of throwing injuries and throwing pain followed by some treatments and stretches you could try to help heal your shoulder pain when throwing. 

The Most Common Causes of Shoulder Pain When Throwing

Having shoulder pain when throwing is never fun because throwing injuries can significantly impact your performance and sideline you for weeks if they are severe enough. Whether you play baseball, football, basketball, or tennis, throwing injuries can hinder your range of motion and cause pain in your arms and back.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff attaches your upper arm to the shoulder blade, and it’s the group of muscles responsible for lifting and rotating your arm. This is a most common issue with the shoulder when you have a throwing injury, particularly with baseball shoulder pain. But it can happen in any sport with a lot of throwing, like softball and tennis. You could also have this type of damage for competitive swimming and volleyball. 

Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:

  • Weakness in the arm
  • Stiffness and swelling in the shoulder
  • Pain while lifting your arm overhead
  • Pain when rotating your arm
  • Difficulty reaching behind your back

Tendonitis of the Bicep

Another common cause of baseball shoulder pain could be tendonitis of the bicep. The bicep attaches your upper arm to the shoulder. Overworked biceps can have inflamed tendons, causing pain.

Signs of bicep tendonitis include:

  • Radiating pain or aches down the upper arm bone
  • Pain in the front of the shoulder
  • A snapping sensation or sound when moving the arm


Overuse of the shoulder can cause the tendons of the rotator cuff to rub against each other, causing them to become impinged by the shoulder blade. You could develop this baseball shoulder pain if you throw too much without enough rest.

Symptoms of shoulder impingement include:

  1. Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
  2. Weakness in the shoulder
  3. Pain when picking up objects
  4. Arm stiffness

Treatment & Stretches for Throwing Pain

For serious injuries, like a muscle or tendon tear, surgery may be an option to repair the damage. Make sure to see your doctor if you develop shoulder pain when throwing.

Some non-invasive treatments include:

  • Applying ice packs to the shoulder 20 minutes at a time for several times a day can reduce swelling. Don’t apply the ice directly to the skin.
  • Modify your activities to avoid the motions that cause shoulder pain. This can make the muscles and joints relax.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe stronger doses if they feel this is warranted.

Consider these stretches to alleviate throwing pain in the shoulder:

Crossover Arm Stretch

  1. Relax your shoulders.
  2. Gently pull your painful arm across your chest.
  3. Hold your upper arm using your other hand, pulling it until you feel the stretch at the back of your shoulder.
  4. Hold it for 30 seconds and then release it for 30 seconds.
  5. Perform the stretch three more times.


  1. Lean forward.
  2. Placing your strong hand on a counter or table for support. 
  3. Allow your painful arm to hang relaxed at your side.
  4. Gently swing your painful arm forward and backward, side-to-side, and in a circular motion. Repeat the motion 10 times.

Contact Our Team for Shoulder Pain Treatment

If you need help alleviating or treating your shoulder pain, the team at IMPACT Physical Therapy and  Sports Recovery is here for you. Our sports recovery services can help you stay in top playing shape after your high-impact and intense workout. Contact us or request an appointment for more information.