The Relationship Between Rotator Cuff Weakness & UCL Tears

By Tom Sutton, DPT Student

The following is a study that was published in International Journal of Sports Medicine that researched the relationship between the strength of the rotator cuff and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears. There are a variety of reasons why baseball players of all ages, from youth to the majors, injure their arms. The results of this study found that baseball players who had a torn UCL had deficits in strength of the rotator cuff vs. players with a healthy UCL.

This study shows that it is very important to make sure the baseball player, whether a position player or pitcher, has adequate strength of the rotator cuff musculature. Muscles can act as dynamic stabilizers and ligaments only prevent unwanted movement. With that, a strengthening program for the rotator cuff may play a role in preventing UCL tears in baseball players.


In a study performed by Garrison et al, the investigators researched the possible relationship of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears in baseball players with deficits in rotator cuff muscular strength. The study consisted of 33 players who had been diagnosed with a UCL tear and 33 players that were healthy and without UCL tears. All participants were not exclusively pitchers, as both groups were matched by position. All participants had baseball experience at the high school and/or collegiate level and volunteered for the study.ijspt

The hypothesis of the study stated that baseball players with a torn UCL would have decreased isometric strength in external rotation (ER) and internal rotation (IR) at 0 degrees glenohumeral (GH) abduction. All participants’ strength was evaluated on both throwing and non-throwing arms.

In closing, the study demonstrated that the group of players with a torn UCL showed a great decrease in strength on the throwing and non-throwing arm in both ER and IR when compared to the healthy control group.

img_7501  Blog Post written by Tom Sutton, DPT Student at the University of St. Augustine.  Tom is currently in his final Clinical Rotation with me at Catz Physical Therapy Institute.

Lower Extremity Injury Risk Following Concussion

concussionConcussion awareness continues to grow and many parents, coaches and medical staffs are now taking more cautious measures before allowing athletes to return to sport following a concussion, for the fear of sustaining a second one.  Something we may need to also consider is the risk for non-contact musculoskeletal injury due to lingering effects of the concussion. Continue reading “Lower Extremity Injury Risk Following Concussion”

Baseball: Reducing Injury Risk in Pitching Mechanics


Injuries to the shoulder and elbow are common amongst baseball players and the topic of many studies in peer reviewed journals.  Previous studies have determined that joint forces at maximum external rotation (MER) and anterior joint instability are MERvalgusprime factors that lead to injury.(1, 2Continue reading “Baseball: Reducing Injury Risk in Pitching Mechanics”

Strength Training for Runners and Endurance Athletes



Running is a big deal here in Pasadena, we have numerous running  &  tri clubs nearby, and a niche running store that specializes in finding the right shoe for your foot, running style and terrain choice.  The Arroyo Seco provides some nature and uneven trail surfaces while the Rose Bowl gives you a nice 5K loop that is traveled daily by runners, walkers and cyclists.  Annually, Pasadena hosts its own Marathon and being only a few miles north of Downtown, the LA Marathon is a common training goal for many runners to work towards.  When working with an endurance athlete, it’s important to remember that it’s always good to work towards strength.  Strength helps everything.  However, the opposite is true with power athletes, you don’t want power-lifters, weight-lifters, platesprinters or in my opinion, baseball pitchers going on long endurance runs, but everybody benefits from getting stronger.  Often times it will take some convincing to get your endurance specialist to buy into getting stronger because many runners believe building strength will add bulk.  Here are just a few fairly recent studies to support strength for improved endurance performance.  I will add to this list as I come across pertinent studies and articles. 

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2013 Aug

Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review.
B R Rønnestad, I Mujika

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2014 Mar

Mixed maximal and explosive strength training in recreational endurance runners.
Ritva S Taipale, Jussi Mikkola, Tiina Salo, Laura Hokka, Ville Vesterinen, William J Kraemer, Ari Nummela, Keijo Häkkinen

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2008 Jun

Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners.
Oyvind Støren, Jan Helgerud, Eva Maria Støa, Jan Hoff

Choosing an ACL graft

acl photo

ACL reconstruction is one of the most common arthroscopic surgeries performed in the United States, and there are many factors to consider when it comes to graft choice.  Usually it starts with the surgeon you select, many surgeons have a specialty and may recommend that as the best option.  Currently there are several options for graft selection and all but the synthetic grafts have shown good results. Continue reading “Choosing an ACL graft”

Baseball: The effect of balance on elbow health, is there a relationship?

ll pitch3

Baseball Players Diagnosed with Ulnar Collateral Ligament Tears Demonstrate Decreased Balance Compared to Healthy Controls. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 10-2013.  J. Craig Garrison, Amanda Arnold, Michael J. Macko, John E. Conway


The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is commonly injured in many baseball players, and is the ligament repaired during Tommy John surgery.  Sadly, many of the ballplayers receiving the surgery are under the age of 20.  There are many myths regarding the effects of Tommy John surgery, Continue reading “Baseball: The effect of balance on elbow health, is there a relationship?”