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!
Today I think I should set some things straight when it comes to working out vs. training.
Even though this is pretty well known, there needs to be some clarification.
If you were a guy who needed to lose a few pounds or look better on the beach, going to the gym and “working out” would be enough. No real plan of action, no real set schedule. Go to the gym, lift some weights, walk on a treadmill, burn a bunch of calories, lose weight.
It’s not hard to do. You just need to commit to going a few times a week, watch what you eat, and sweat a little bit. Do that long enough and you will lose weight.
That’s what 99% of the world does when they go to the gym.
If you are a competitive athlete, you need to TRAIN, not “work out.”
When you train you have a specific goal in mind. You have something you are working towards.
When you train, you follow a program. You get a professional to write out a few months of training for you to follow that ensures you are on the right path to getting stronger, more explosive, faster, and more powerful.
That could be a strength coach at your college, a knowledgeable coach at your high school, or a local trainer with a ton of experience working with athletes.
Problem is, what do you do if none of those people are available to you?
Check out the video to learn more:
So there you have it. The athlete who sent in that question needs to get stronger, more explosive, and faster. He needs to do so without putting on a lot of weight. He needs to stay flexible and mobile.
Think you could write him a program to do all that in the next 3 months?
Many people could get him faster. Many people could get him stronger but he might gain a lot of weight back. Many people could do it in 6 months or a year.
You see, proper programming is tough to do. It really takes someone with a lot of experience and knowledge to get an athlete from a specific sport to reach beyond their goals.
That’s why I created the new eBook, The ULTIMATE Off Season Training Program for Throwers.
13 weeks or proven, guaranteed to work training specifically designed for throwers and power athletes. Guaranteed to get you stronger, more explosive, more powerful, and faster without gaining a lot of weight and increasing your flexibility.
Impossible? Nope. I’ve been using this training program for over 2 years with my athletes. Everyone (over 50 athletes) have used this training program and every one has gotten stronger without putting on a ton of bulk or sacrificing their flexibility.
Check it out for yourself. CLICK HERE <————————
If you have any questions about the book before you buy it or if you want the first week for FREE, email me.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Happy Tuesday Everyone,
That’s right, you get 2 happys today. It is getting closer to the winter sports season and I am fired up and excited.
One of my athletes went out and threw and had her mom measure the throws. In 2 and a half months she has increased 4 feet 6 inches on her shot and over 11 feet on her discus. Right now I have what might be the top 4 girls throwers in the state training with me.
I am excited. They are excited. They are getting stronger every day and their confidence levels are rising. Shoot, their confidence levels are almost boiling over!!
But that’s 4 really strong high school girls who have been training with me for a while? What about the beginners?
You know, the 12 – 14 year old athletes with no strength training background. What do they do?
Back in the day, phys ed classes were full of push ups, sprints, suicide runs (remember those?) and all types of athletic movements.
Nowadays, not so much. When younger athletes start training with me I start them off with a regimen of bodyweight training.
Not just your average run of the mill bodyweight training either. Check out the video to learn more:
So there you have it. If you have younger athletes interested in getting stronger, in better general physical shape, and ready for next season, bodyweight training is the way to go.
Make sure you hit me up with questions at Matt@PrimalATC.com
If you are not ready for the winter season and need to get your butt in gear and start some serious training,
CLICK HERE <—————————-
6 weeks until the winter season. You ready?
Coach Matt Ellis
Well, it’s time to stir the pot a little bit here. For many years, Olympic lifting has been used by throws coaches all around the world to build explosive strength and power. And for good reason. It works.
But when you are working with younger athletes and only have a short window of opportunity to teach them how to lift properly you might not have the time.
Teaching how to do the Olympic lifts CORRECTLY takes time. Time you might not have during a very busy and short track season.
You can train power and explosion with basic barbell lifts too. Check out the video below to learn more.
When you have a properly mapped out training program, you will start your main strength lifts with lighter weights. Moving these lighter weights as fast as you possibly can while under control will build up your strength and power.
It will also increase your hand speed and reaction time. All things you need to throw farther.
If you need a great training program to get you in better shape for the fast approaching track season, click here <————-
If you want to continue following the same old training program with little results, get ready to have a difficult season this year.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Coach Matt Ellis
Man things are getting crazy here. Lots of great things happening with my athletes at Primal and everyone is psyched up for the winter season to start.
One of my athletes yesterday bench pressed 10 pounds less than her max (170 pounds) for 5 reps. That’s insane. That’s an incredible increase in just a few months.
Incredible in any other gym. Funny thing is, every other athlete at Primal is seeing the same results.
This time of year I get a lot of questions from athletes like you who are noticing the winter season is right around the corner and need to get back in shape. Getting in shape for an athlete is a lot different than getting in shape for a regular person looking to drop a few pounds.
The biggest question is also the most vague. “How do I get in shape and what should my workouts look like?”
Here is a good video explaining the type of training you should be doing and the tempo of any strength circuits you attack in the gym.
If you need help, you need to click here <————-
You still have time to get ready for the winter season. If you live in RI, you need to get to Primal Athlete Training Center and start getting in shape for the season. It’s not too late.
If you live outside of RI and want the same training and results as the athletes who train at Primal, make sure you click here.
Coach Matt Ellis
What’s up everyone,
Sorry for the lack of blog updates lately. Things here at Primal are growing fast and I have been putting a lot of focus into getting the newer athletes caught up and ready for their winter season.
You should be doing the same. If you need help, that’s what I am here for. Please make sure you ask your questions and I will get them answered here on the blog or in the weekly newsletter. Make sure you sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t done so already.
One question I get a lot has to do with what I call the “magic bullet for throwers.” People will e-mail me asking for that one thing to make them a better thrower. What’s that one thing they can do to become a better thrower. What’s one thing they should improve upon in the weight room to become a better thrower.
The answer? There is no one thing. The best thing you can do to improve your technique is to improve everything little by little. Here’s why:
If you take form and technique completely out of the equation, there are certain “ingredients” that make up a great thrower. Certain things like height and arm length, etc can’t be improved. The things that can be changed are strength, power, explosion, vertical leap, conditioning, agility, balance, coordination, footwork, speed (running speed), flexibility, size (weight), and quickness (reaction time).
If you put the majority of your efforts into increasing just one of those things, the others will take a hit and your throw won’t see much improvement. At the same time, if you continue to improve on what you are already really good at, your throw won’t see much improvement.
For example, if you spend three months trying to increase your squat and forget to train your speed, footwork, and balance, your throw won’t see that big of an improvement. Also, if you have really great strength and put all of your focus into further improving your strength, other aspects of your athletic ability will falter because you aren’t actively training them.
This is the best answer I can give. If you ranked all of the “ingredients” I listed above on a scale of 1 – 10 and gave yourself a grade for each, you will have some that are close to 10 and some that are close to 1.
If you want to be a great thrower, you need to get the ingredients that are close to a #1 and try bringing them up. If your vertical leap stinks but you have a 400 pound bench press, focus more energy into box jumps instead of the bench. Adding a few inches to your vertical leap will help your throw a lot more than adding 5 pounds to your bench press.
Hope this makes sense. Improve what you are not good at. It’s really that simple.
If you are in need of improving your strength, explosion, your conditioning, or your grip and need a great program to help you do it, click here
Thanks and keep emailing me those questions.
Coach Matt Ellis
Is it really Wednesday already?
Wow. This week is flying bye. You know what they say, time flies when you are having fun.
Time also flies when you are coaching 25 athletes at night, caring for an 18 month old during the day, publishing a new e-Book, and creating videos and blog posts.
But I love it. And that’s why I do it.
I am also keeping the Starbucks up the street in business!
Sometimes when you are feeling tired or run down, you gotta stand up, get fired up, and attack the day.
Throwing taught me about breaking through barriers.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of help when it came to strength training and conditioning when I was in high school and college.
That’s why I am so passionate about helping other athletes reach their goals and why I am so passionate about strength training.
Following along with yesterday’s post, today I am covering another exercise that appears in the new e-Book, The ULTIMATE Off Season Strength Training Guide for Throwers.
Today is all about the Recline Row. Ever heard of it? I used to call it a “Fat Guy Pull Up” when I was in college. These are great when bodyweight movements like pull ups give you some trouble. Check out the video to learn more.
There it is, the Recline Row. These appear in the new e-Book a few times and are a killer on your back, biceps, forearms, grip, and core. Give them a try today and see what I mean.
Just a few more days until the book goes live on this site. Make sure you sign up for the free newsletter on the right. Enter in your e-mail address in the box. Once the book goes live, you will be the first to find out and get your paws all over it. Simply download it to your computer, laptop, tablet, phone, whatever you have. You can print it out too, if actual paper books are your thing.
Hope to hear from you real soon.
Coach Matt Ellis
If you received the newsletter on Sunday, you read that the emphasis of this blog will be switching from throwing form and technique to training ideas and technique.
It’s the preseason. Not a lot of throwing technique questions are coming in. This is crunch time. Now is the time when you should be in the weight room working on your strength and conditioning getting as strong and explosive for the upcoming indoor season.
I am releasing a new e-Book sometime this week. The book is called “The ULTIMATE Off Season Training Program for Throwers.” This book is a full 13 week training and conditioning program 100% mapped out for you to follow along and get you in crazy shape for track season.
In this book, all you need are the basics: Squat Rack, Bar, Plates, Dumbbells, Bench, and a Pull Up Bar.
One of the exercises you will be doing is a Goblet Squat. This is a great exercise for throwers. It loads the squat in the front of the body and gets you to sit back farther. This opens up the hips, stretches the hamstrings more, and makes you keep your core very tight. Check out the video below to learn more.
So there you have it. You should try implementing these into your current training plan. You will feel the benefits of sitting back farther and your low back and legs will thank you for it.
The book drops in a few days. I put my all into writing this and I hope you take advantage of it. As soon as it goes live on the site, I will be announcing it to my newsletter list so make sure you enter in your e-mail address on the right to sign up.
Big thanks for checking out the website today. Today is a very special day for me. Voting has begun to decide who is the top Rising Star in the fitness industry. I was nominated by my friend and mentor Zach Even-Esh. Voting started last night. If you still need to vote, here is the link:
Scroll down until you see my ugly mug and vote for me. From the looks of things, I am the only coach surrounded by a heap of weight loss, bootcamp style trainers. You can vote as many times as you want. Just hit the refresh button and vote again.
So take the day off work, stay home from school, and vote a few thousand times.
On to the blog post for today. Today is the last day covering the prevention of lower back pain in throwers. This is a subject near and dear to my heart because I suffered with low back pain throughout my entire track and field career.
On day 1, you learned about the causes of back pain. Day 2 covered how to stretch the affected areas. Day 3 you visited with my chiropractor and former javelin thrower, Dan Denette.
Today is all about getting the hamstrings, low back, and hips stronger. In this video I cover 2 exercises that you can do after your warm up but before any heavy lifting or throwing to improve your low back health. Check it out.
There you have it. Improved flexibility and strength in the hamstrings, hips, and low back with just 2 exercises. Try these out today and let me know what you think.
This week I will be releasing a new book designed specifically for throwers. This book is 60 pages of training and conditioning information with a full 13 week training template that you can follow to maximize your strength gains.
It is in the final editing stages.
Just like the last big giveaway, the newsletter recipients will get the first crack at this. Make sure you sign up for the newsletter so you get first dibs on this great off-season training book. The sign-up form is at the top of this webpage.
Coach Matt Ellis
Happy Monday. I hope you all had a great weekend and are pumped up for another great week of throwing and training.
Football is on TV and that can only mean one thing: Indoor track season is right around the corner.
In just about 3 months, you will be attending your first track meets and competing against other throwers.
If you have been reading this blog, viewing the videos, and practicing all summer, you will have no problem.
If, like 99% of throwers out there, you sat on your butt all summer and did nothing, good luck to you. Hopefully you don’t have to throw against a committed athlete who trained all summer and has the desire to win at all costs.
Today’s blog continues our discussion of lower back pain for throwers. Today I visit my chiropractor for an adjustment and a short interview. WATCH THIS! This is very important and will help your perform at your best and be a healthier athlete.
As you can see, nothing I have written in the past few days has had anything to do with fixing. It is all about PREVENTING. Just like doing preventive maintenance on your car or on your teeth, preventive steps are needed to keep your back healthy and pain free.
I know, I know. Your back doesn’t hurt now so why go through the trouble?
I said the same thing a few years ago right before I got badly hurt. You need to take precautions. Get adjusted. Find a professional to help you get healthy.
If NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and other professional athletes use chiropractors to stay healthy, you should too.
If you are in the Boston area, you need to check out Denette Family Chiropractic. Dr. Dan and Dr. Kris are the best.
Check back in tomorrow to learn three of my favorite exercises to strengthen your hamstrings, hips, and lower back.
Coach Matt Ellis