Throwing disciplines in athletics

Throwing disciplines in athletics
    •  We know from Homer’s Iliad, among other things, that throwing and pushing competitions with stones were already held in antiquity. In modern athletics, there are four different throwing disciplines: shot put, hammer throw, discus throw, and javelin throw. We provide health tips for each of these athletics throwing disciplines.

      shot put

      In the shot put, a 7.257 kg (equivalent to 16 pounds) ball for men or a 4 kg metal ball for women is pushed as far as possible by the athlete’s arm stretching explosively. The diameter of the ball is between 110-130mm for men and 95-110mm for women. A 2.13 m (seven foot) circle is available for swinging, which must not be crossed and must be exited backwards after the ball has hit the ground. The world record for men is 23.12m, and for women it is 22.63m.

      Due to the increased physical strain, the upper extremities are particularly at risk in all throwing disciplines. The rotational movement causes problems in the lumbar spine and locking phenomena. Injuries to wrists and finger joints are also typical. In addition, there are muscle injuries to the adductors, with the stem bone particularly affected. In the long term, radiocarpathrosis often develops as a result of overuse injuries.



      Although hammer throwing is now an Olympic discipline, it originated in medieval Ireland and Scotland. Back then, blacksmith’s hammer throwing competitions were held before moving to stick weights in the first half of the 19th century. Today’s throwing hammer consists of a metal ball on a steel wire. The weights of the hammer throw correspond precisely to those of the shot put, and the diameter of the swing circle is the same. The wire is 1,219m long (four feet) and is held in both hands by the athlete.

      Hammer throwing is the only discipline where wearing gloves is allowed; alternatively, the athletes can also use bandages. In addition to the above-mentioned typical injuries in the throwing disciplines, the torso muscles, in particular, are exposed to heavy strain from the high centrifugal forces. The finger tendons and finger capsules can also be easily damaged. Elbow joint arthrosis can occur as a possible long-term damage, and the hips often suffer from long-term effects.

      discus throw

      Discus has been thrown since 708 BC as an Olympic discipline. The Greek word discos describes a slab or disc, which in ancient times was made of bronze and weighed five to six kilos. On the other hand, today’s discus weighs only two kilos for men and one kilo for women and is much smaller than the ancient disc.

      In ancient times, the discus thrower was considered the ultimate athlete. A discus could also be used as a weapon in fighting games. In Greek mythology, on the other hand, there were unintentional deaths, for example, when Perseus accidentally hit his grandfather Acrisios with a discus.

      When throwing a discus, the most important thing is to use the proper technique to accelerate it as much as possible by rotating the body 1.5 times around its axis in a circle with a diameter of 2.5m. The discus throw involves the general risks of the throwing disciplines described above but has the fewest injuries.


      javelin throw

      The spear was used as a weapon as early as the Stone Age. Greek mythology describes Heracles as an outstanding javelin thrower. The spear’s length is 2.70m-2.80m for men and 2.20m-2.30m for women. The weight is 800g or 600g.

      The weapon must be grasped in the middle and thrown after a short run with the tip in the throwing direction. The thumb-index finger grip is the most commonly used of the different grip types. Javelin throwing has the highest risk of injury and long-term damage of any throwing discipline. Because the weapon is sometimes held above head height, tendon injuries of the rotator cuff often occur.

      Injuries to the throwing arm and elbow are also typical. In addition, javelin throwers often suffer from vertebral slippage with consequences for the intervertebral discs, and bony tears can sometimes occur in the lower lumbar vertebrae. Protracted complaints are also caused by extreme loads on the elbow capsules and the ulnar collateral ligament. Severe cases of arthrosis in the shoulder, elbow or hip joint are not uncommon as a late consequence.

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