Preventing Elbow Injuries for Javelin Throwers
Throwing the Javelin could just be one of the most awesome activities in all of sports. It is the perfect combination of art form, science, technique, and overall body power.
Unfortunately, it is also an event that can cause you substantial pain, especially in the throwing elbow.
More than ever, javelin throwers are going under the knife in order to repair the ulnar collateral ligaments with a process called Tommy John surgery than ever before. As the stats rise, if there is ever to be a turn-around, then there needs to be some changes in the way we approach preparation for the event.
In the following article, I will offer suggestions that Javelin throwers can put into action in order to avoid the pain of elbow injuries. As you read, take note of the repeated theme of change – changing habits, changing mind sets, and changing your approach to your event, for changing what you do before or after your Javelin throws can make all the difference toward how you feel weeks, months, or even years down the line, in addition to help improve your peformance.
and expecting different results
- Albert Einstein
Change #1 – Get Your Technique Dialed In Right
Below are many important actions that can have a tremendous effect on your performance with the Javelin as well as your ability to stay healthy. However, all of them are reduce to mere words on a computer screen if your technique is not correct in the Javelin throw.
It pays to learn the technique from a good teacher. Take note that this does not have to be someone who threw the Javelin like a superstar in high school. It also doesn’t have to be someone who has been a coach for 6 decades.
What you want is somebody that knows the technique, who has helped others improve their technique, and someone who has helped produce many healthy and high performing throwers.
Find these people, buy their video or attend their seminar, and put their advice into action. Remember, all of the ancillary practices that follow get erased if when you make your throws your technique is poor.
Change #2: Approach to Warm-up
Does this sound familiar to you?
You get off the bus at 10AM. Javelin throw starts at 2PM. You get off the bus, find a nice place to hang out with your teammates. When 1:50 rolls around, you take off your sweats, do some arm circles, and you’re ready for the first throw.
If this is how you get ready for your throws, you are asking for trouble. Your elbow is a ticking time bomb and it is just a matter of time until the UCL or some other tissue in your arm fails.
Instead, at least 30 minutes prior to your start time, you must begin doing a full-body general warm-up, involving things such as bodyweight squats, lunges, and push-ups, followed by transitional core work, and moving into an upper body focus as well. This kind of full-body approach to your warm-up gets the blood circulating throughout your body, raises the core temperature, and begins stimulating your central nervous system. All three of these things are a must if you want to perform your best in any athletic endeavor.
You’re not done yet.
Up until now, everything has been general, just warming up the body globally. Now it is time to focus on that arm of yours – your bread and butter.
Get your hands on about 6 feet of surgical tubing. You can buy it from pharmacies and places like that, or you can get it off amazon for cheap.
First, start off with some movements for the shoulders, such as External Rotations and some pull-aparts. Next, hook one end of the band to a fence and perform some internal rotations and then move on to some direct elbow work.
The resistance of the tubing will be very light. This is perfect, because the elbow movements will be don every slowly and deliberately. You want to hit some nice slow curls and some tricep extensions. By going slowly, you not only begin exciting the biceps and triceps muscles, but you also wake up the stabilizer tissues of the elbow and get blood flowing through there as well.
Finally, before you put your tubing away, work the forearm and elbow area. Again, go nice and slow and control the movement at all times. You will want to perform as full of a range of motion as possible throughout pronation (turning the palm toward the ground) and supination (turning the palm toward the sky). Also, move the wrist around in a circle against the band resistance to get the wrist and hands ready to go as well.
For a quick demonstration of these tubing drills, check out the video below.
Shoulder & Forearm Specific Warm-up Drills with Tubing
Important: Once you are done with your warm-up, don’t just stand around in shorts and a tank top. That will only make you lose the valuable warm-up you just attained. Instead, throw a nice loose sleeve over your elbow and get your sweats back on. In fact, don’t even take those off. Keep them on, especially during the chillier days of the spring. This will keep the core temperature up and make your warm-up more efficient.
The sleeve you place over your elbow should be tight enough to stay in place. It does not have to be some sort of medical sleeve or support sleeve. You can wear those during your throws, if you wish, but for now, just keep the elbow sleeve loose to allow blood to flow in and out and through the arm, instead of causing pooling in the forearm and hand.
Do you think people will say you’re not a “tough guy” if you warm-up? Ignore them. How well do they throw anyway? Are they in pain?
Afraid this is going to tire you out? If you are in shape, it should not. We’re talking 10 to 15 minutes of moving around. Sure, it will get the blood flowing, the heart pumping and your lungs breathing a bit, but if you’re in shape, this warm-up will not get you worn out.
Change #3: Your Recovery Practices
One of the biggest opportunities that you have as throwers is improving your recovery practices. These are the actions you take from the moment your last throw is done until you go to bed that night. That is a BIG time period, and many do not use this time to their advantage in order to begin recovering from their throws and allowing their bodies to heal up for the next practice or competition. Here are some things to take action on.
1. Immediately Cover the Elbow and Upper Body
Just like how we used a loose sleeve to keep the elbow warm between the warm-up and our live throws, we should keep the blood flowing well to the elbow once we are done throwing as well. Again, it doesn’t have to be a tight wrap, in fact a towel works great.
If you have another throwing event coming up, then keep the area covered until it comes time to get warmed up for that as well. If your throwing for the day is complete, however, then move on to the next step.
2. Stretch out the Lower Arms
Once your throws are done, and with the elbow still covered to keep the soft tissues warm and pliable, go into your post-throws stretching routine. You must include plenty of work for the forearm flexors, extensors, and rotator muscles. By keeping these muscles loose and limber they will help protect the integrity of the elbow joint. If they get tight, they can cause further issues, imbalances, and make recovery more difficult.
Since the whole forearm is used, be sure to stretch all of the muscles mentioned, but perform the flexor stretches first and last. They have the tendency to get too built up quicker than the rest of the muscles of the forearm, so they need the most corrective attention.
3. Apply Ice
As soon as possible, wrap the elbow in some ice. Often ice application is thought of as something that is only done for injured players, but that is a myth. All throwers, once their throws are done for the day should ice. For most people, 15 or 20 minutes of ice is good. This will help to reduce swelling in the area and reduce the effects of inflammation or possible swelling.
NOTE: If you will be in another event after the Javelin, it is not necessary to ice right away. Icing the arm can cause issues for warming the arm back up for the next throws. Instead, wait until all throws are over for the meet.
4. Fuel Up
You are an athlete. That means you need to treat yourself like a well-oiled machine. Start putting high quality fuel into your body like good lean protein sources, fruits, and vegetables, especially green leafy veggies. Get this fuel into your body as soon as possible following your throws so your body can start the rebuilding process.
Protein shakes or meal replacements are not a bad idea either. They can be mixed beforehand and kept in a cooler with ice, and make for a quick, tasty treat after a day of throwing.
Get good quality food into your system. Pizza or fast food, despite their great taste, do not offer the same kind of replenishing and rebuilding nutrients and compounds your body needs. Scrap them for wiser choice foods.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Your body is nearly 70% water. Between traveling on a bus, sitting around in the sun and wind, competing, and waiting around, there is the opportunity to get highly dehydrated. Combat this dehydration and jump start your recovery by staying hydrated.
Hopefully your coach can provide water or sports drinks, but if not, then throw them into your cooler or equipment bag so you have something to drink after your throws. (Of course, drinking throughout the day is smart as well).
Change #4: Bullet-Proof the Elbow
It’s also imperative to strengthen the elbows and forearms correctly. When this area is properly trained, it will resist injury better and you will be able to recover between throwing sessions more quickly.
Coach Ellis and I are releasing a comprehensive DVD on Grip and Forearm Training for Throwers, very soon. It includes many different drills that all throwers can use to not only improve their throws, but also keep themselves healthier throughout the season.
Remember the quote at the beginning of the article: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
If you keep doing what everybody before you had done, then you can expect the same results everyone before you has gotten. Break the link in the chain now by changing your approach to your sport.
The Grip Training for Track and Field Throwers DVD will come out soon. Keep your eyes on this site and do not delay in picking it up.
Until then, all the best in your training.
To a Great Season!
What’s up everybody, Happy Thursday!
I can’t believe how fast the days are flying by. Only about 5 weeks now until winter sports practices start up.
Even though the next few months are going to focus on shot put and indoor weight, that doesn’t mean I won’t answer some great javelin questions.
This week I received 2 good javelin questions about the actual implement itself. Not the training or throwing, the actual metal javelin.
I love equipment questions (I sold track equipment for over 7 years) and welcome them to the blog.
So here are two javelin videos. Selecting the proper javelin for an intermediate thrower and getting rust off a steel javelin. Check them out:
Two for the price of 1 which, I guess, is still $0.00
And that is a promise. This blog will always be 100% free. No charge to you. All I ask is that you spread the word to your friends and teammates and coaches. Forward the link to your e-mail list or “Like” this on Facebook.
Let’s turn PrimalATC.com into a site where throwers can come to get the most up to date information possible. Let’s HELP other throwers all around the world become better.
Coach Matt Ellis
Thank you to everyone who voted for me last night as one of the Fitness Industry’s Top Rising Stars.
I didn’t win, but I did get 17th out of about 60 top names in the fitness industry. Many of these names have been at it a lot longer than me and work at facilities with thousands of members. Cracking the top 20 is a huge honor.
I appreciate your help with this and promise to continue providing all of you with the best track and field throwing and training material possible.
Today’s video is all about speed. Speed is 100% necessary to have longer throws. The faster you can move in the circle or on the javelin runway, the further you can throw, right?
Not necessarily. Check out the video below to learn why too much speed can sometimes be a bad thing.
Speed can sometimes hurt your throw, especially if you are not ready for it. If you are just learning the proper form and technique, adding a lot of speed will throw off your timing, balance, and coordination. Your form will be bad and your throws will suffer.
Make sure to add in speed gradually and don’t get crazy.
Acceleration is the key. The idea is to reach your top speed at the very end of the throw. Start moving at a medium pace, accelerate in the middle of the throw, and finish off the release as fast as you can. Your form won’t be sacrificed and you will have longer, more consistent throws.
In the next 48 hours I will be releasing my new book, “The ULTIMATE Off Season Training Program for Throwers.” I didn’t hold back when I was writing this so I could give you the best information possible on how to get stronger, more powerful, and more explosive for the start of track season.
Indoor track starts up in about 3 months. This is the perfect opportunity to focus your training and get prepared. If you don’t have a plan to get yourself to the top strength and power by track season you need to get a copy of this as soon as it comes out.
How do you find out when it is available? Enter your e-mail address above and you will be put on a list to receive word as soon as the book is available for download.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Monday Everybody,
One of the oldest ways of training for the throwing events is to use overweight implements. For years throwers have been using different weight shots, discuses, hammers, and even javelins to improve their throws.
And it makes total sense. Using a 16 pound shot put will make it easier to throw a 12 pound, won’t it?
Well, yes and no. Check out the video below to learn more.
As you can see, the use of overweight and underweight implements can be advantageous to your throws, but only if used properly.
Make sure you don’t overuse them. Once a week, 15 throws, just to add some strength to the movement. Same goes for underweight implements. One day a week, 15 throws. This will add speed.
Just don’t overdo it. Using the overweight and underweight implements too much can throw off your release angle, timing, balance, and rhythm.
This was a great question that was left here on the website. Make sure to leave your questions here on the website and I will answer them in a future video.
Keep spreading the word to your friends, teammates, and coaches about www.PrimalATC.com. Let’s make Primal the place where throwers and coaches can come to improve their throws on a daily basis.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Friday everybody.
Get ready for the weekend. Grab your javelin, head out to the field, and practice your technique.
School starts in about 4 weeks. The fall sports season is almost here. That means the weather is going to get colder, the ground is going to start to freeze, and javelin season will be done.
Can’t throw the javelin when the ground is as hard as cement.
So get out there as much as possible right now. Take advantage of the warm weather and the soft ground and throw as much as possible.
Today’s video puts the javelin technique together for you. You will learn how to connect the approach run, the crossover steps, and the drawing back of the javelin together. Check it out.
Now that javelin is complete, I will have more room for your questions and more time to talk about training for track and field. The free 13 week e-mail training newsletter is almost complete. This Sunday is week 10. So if you haven’t already signed up, do it immediately.
Take action. Move fast. Get it done.
Have a great weekend and I will see you all on Monday.
Coach Matt Ellis
I hate when this happens.
Last night I stayed late at the gym to shoot the final javelin training video to finish up the javelin training series. The video came out great.
Unfortunately when I got home the video file was corrupted and I could not upload it to my laptop to edit it and put it on YouTube.
So you will have to wait until Friday to get that final javelin training video. Sorry about that. Out of my control.
Luckily, I received a great javelin question last night by e-mail from Doug Roby on javelin care and maintenance. Doug had a javelin bend and was wondering if it was still OK to throw.
Check out the video below to learn more
Javelins are very tough to make. They are made to exact specifications and tolerances. If a javelin gets really bent out of shape or the tip gets smashed, it’s time to buy a new one. If the tail gets a little bent or the tip gets a small dent, you can still throw it with little or no negative impact on the flight of the javelin.
This was a great question. I never would have thought of this if Doug hadn’t asked me by e-mail.
If you have throwing questions, please let me know and I will get them answered here on the site or on Facebook for you. So ask away!
Make sure you keep spreading the word about www.PrimalATC.com. Like Primal Athlete Training Center on Facebook or forward www.PrimalATC.com to all of your friends, teammates, and coaches.
Coach Matt Ellis
Hi everybody. Hope you are having a great week.
Believe it or not I am wrapping up the javelin training video series on Thursday. Today is the second to last video and covers the beginning of the approach run.
Now, running is pretty basic. You have been running your entire life and I am sure you have played other sports that involved running too. What’s the big deal about running with a javelin in your hand?
There are a few things to watch out for. I see too many javelin throwers making these mistakes and creating a really bad approach run. Watch the video below to learn more.
Unfortunately, training the approach run, like training the crossovers, means you have to get on the track and run. Sorry.
No thrower really enjoys running, but it is essential for a javelin thrower. Keep the running to shorter distances and don’t overdo it. Mark out a distance similar to a javelin runway and get to work.
Train your acceleration, rhythm, and tempo during these runs. It will all be worth it when the javelin is soaring further than ever before.
Check in tomorrow for the final installment of the javelin training video series. I will be putting it all together, blending the approach run to the crossovers and adding the drawback of the javelin to the mix. Make sure you stay tuned.
Share this on Facebook and let your friends and teammates know about www.PrimalATC.com.
Coach Matt Ellis
Are you ready for the first javelin training video of the week? Well, here it is.
Crossovers are pretty basic. They can be taught in just a few days of practice. So why the video?
The toughest part of crossover training is also the toughest part of throwing the javelin, in my humble opinion. Running and acceleration.
Acceleration can make or break your throw. I always equate the approach runs of the javelin, pole vault, long jump, and triple jump to a plane taking off the ground.
Start slow, gradually accelerate, hit the top speed as you are about to take off.
If your speed is too fast to start, there is nowhere to go but slower.
If your speed varies throughout the throw, you will waste extra energy you could use at the end when you release the javelin.
Check the video below to learn more:
Unfortunately, the only way to practice the crossover is to get on the track and sprint. I am the first guy to tell you that running for a long period of time is counter productive to the throws. So make sure to keep the sprints shorter and work on your acceleration.
Tomorrow you should check back in to see more on the approach run. This can make or break your throw. I will be wrapping up the javelin technique videos on Thursday so make sure you keep tuning in.
As always, please let your friends, teammates, and coaches know about www.PrimalATC.com. My goal is to have Primal be the online hub where throwers and their coaches can come to ask questions, get fast answers, and iimprove their throws on a daily basis.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Thursday everybody,
Today we finish up the week of javelin training by taking another step towards getting you more PR’s and throwing farther on a consistent basis.
Today’s discussion is all about exploding into the throw.
Watch the top throwers no matter what the event. Shot, discus, javelin, you will see something similar between all of the events. The athletes get airborne at one point just before the power position.
Now, they aren’t leaping in the air like they are trying to dunk a basketball. They are bounding forward, barely getting more than 6 inches off the ground.
The reason for this is to increase speed.
With the javelin, your goal during the approach run is to accelerate and build up speed until you are at your top speed right as you start to throw. The only way to go beyond that speed for a little “turbo boost” is to get in the air and reduce the time and friction of the feet hitting the ground.
Check out the video to learn more:
So there you have it. One more step to getting you throwing further than ever before.
Tomorrow I will be doing some rapid-fire questions in video format. I am trying to do about 5 questions in under 10 minutes. Real quick.
If you want your question to be answered, go to the Primal Athlete Training Center facebook page and leave your question right on the wall. If it is a good one, I will answer it in tomorrow’s video.
Thanks, and see you tomorrow.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Wednesday everyone,
Today we continue our discussion about the javelin throw. Today’s video is a little out of order but it is something that should be covered before we move any further.
From here on out, the drills and techniques I demonstrate will involve the javelin being drawn all the way back. Even though we aren’t at that point in the full approach, we still have to cover it.
So here’s the question. Do you actively pull the javelin back with the throwing arm? Check out the video below to learn more.
So hopefully you see the difference between pulling the javelin back and walking in front of it.
You never want to put an opposite force on that javelin. If the javelin is moving forward as you do the approach, you don’t want to simple throw it backward. Practice this and notice the slight difference. Once you master it your throws will be smoother and you will see improvement.
Make sure to keep checking back in daily to learn more. Ask questions, join us on Facebook, and improve your throws on a daily basis.
-Coach Matt Ellis