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Arm Care For Quarterbacks

Arm Care For Quarterbacks

by Mike Headtke, PTA, NASM-CES, NASM-BCSLeave a Comment

Are you ready for some football? The Friday night lights are upon us and the excitement of getting back to playing is in the air. Have you ever wondered what it takes to truly keep your arm healthy as a quarterback? Well, today we are going to talk a little bit about that and things that you can do to help keep your arm in shape so that you can get through the season unscathed.

First things first, throwing a ball is one of the most violent things that you can do with your body. I could get all “science-y” about biomechanics, but I’m going to keep it simple. Throwing is a total body event where you gain energy from the ground up and the arm is the driver of the ball. Most of that energy comes from your legs and your core and is then released through the arm. With this said, the arm has to be very strong to support the forces placed upon it.

There are multiple ways that you can break down a throw, but for this article, we’re going to talk about a loading phase, an acceleration phase, and a deceleration phase.

Loading Phase

The loading phase is where all the energy is built up from the legs and core. Think of this as pulling a rubber band back just before releasing it. Several different muscle groups are utilized during this phase. There is a weight transfer through the legs to the back, a coil of the torso, and a cocking of the arm to get it in position.

Acceleration Phase

The acceleration phase is the release of all that energy. There is a push-off from the legs that leads to the uncoiling in the upper body and the shoulder and arm launching the ball to its target.

Deceleration Phase

Lastly, when the ball is released the posterior shoulder, core, and lower body work on slowing the arm back down. This could also be called the follow-through.

As you can see, throwing is very technical. The throw I outlined above is a simple, straightforward throw. Take into consideration that sometimes the quarterback is rolling out to throw the ball or throwing it across the body. There are several different throws, but if these phases aren’t in sync, injuries to the shoulder can happen. Also, if the body is not strong enough, repetitious throwing can create an overuse injury.

With that said, there are some important muscle groups to work on to assist with overall arm care. Working on the rotator cuff muscles, the muscles that stabilize the scapula, and the core are essential to overall arm health.

Some arm exercises to incorporate would be rotator cuff strengthening (especially in the plane of throwing), as well as scapular stabilization exercises, which are essential, especially during the deceleration phase to reduce the stress on the shoulder during the throw. A thrower also has a unique ability to gain a good range of motion through the shoulder, which is different from someone who does not throw a ball. Therefore, maintaining the required range of motion to throw optimally is essential as well. Finally, working on agility, motor control, and timing during the throwing sequence will allow you to be effective and healthy on the field.

There are a lot of factors when it comes to throwing a ball, and the entire body needs to be both mobile and strong, as well as have the motor control to be in sync throughout all of the phases to reduce the stress to the shoulder. It is important to maintain strength and flexibility, and if there are any instances of discomfort, they should be addressed before continuing to throw. If you ever have any doubt, getting your shoulder looked at and having your motion assessed may be beneficial in reducing injury. Also, using a throwing program that allows you to progressively throw more and further is an optimal way to reduce overuse and build the strength necessary to stay in the game. If you have questions or are dealing with pain that’s getting in the way of your season, contact Athletico to schedule a free assessment. Free Assessments are available in-person and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

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*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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