It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re hanging up our bats and gloves, coaches are making their rosters and checking them twice, and soon, our mounds and dugouts will be lightly covered in a fresh blanket of snow. ‘Tis the season – the off-season, that is.
While we’re filling our bellies with holiday cookies and taking that much-needed break from throwing, giving our arm the TLC it deserves after carrying us through the season is important. In fact, the best gift we could give our arm is a comprehensive arm care program.
“Go get your arm warmed up!” This is a phrase I hear all the time for overhead athlete sports, whether it’s the relief pitcher in baseball, the center fielder in softball, the ACE server in volleyball, or the star QB. This is solid advice; it’s never a good idea to go into aggressive overhead activity without a proper warm-up, but what makes a good warm-up? That can be a very loaded question! Fortunately, by understanding the anatomy of the shoulder and the requirement by its muscles to work optimally overhead, it can be simple to get an athlete ready for action and, more importantly, lower their risk for injury.
With winter in full effect, it is time to shift the focus of training for our throwers toward preparation for the spring. As the demand for increased pitch speed increases, it is important that throwing athletes make the most of the winter to reduce their risk of injury before ramping up their throwing in preseason training. Although most throwing injuries occur in the arm, athletes can minimize injury risk and increase pitch count by focusing on leg strength and core stability in addition to mechanics.
If you know anything about youth baseball, the season seems never ending as kids go from one team to another and never seem to have an offseason. Most youth baseball players and parents don’t realize that the offseason is equally if not more important than the regular season. It is a chance for the body to recover and adapt to the changes that were imposed on it during the regular season. Now the offseason does not mean it’s time to sit around and do nothing; it’s a great chance to improve your strength and conditioning and address asymmetries as well as faults in your throwing motion.
The start of the spring season means that it is finally time for many athletes to implement off-season drills, workouts, and preparation for competition. For baseball players and other throwing athletes, especially pitchers, this means a lot of throwing.
Overhead athletes are required to have tremendous strength and stability in not only their shoulder, but their entire body. The forces that go through the shoulder during a pitching motion are some of the highest that occur within the sports realm, with the fastest motion recorded at over 7000 degrees of rotation per second (that equates to 20 full arm revolutions in a second). It makes sense that these forces require tremendous strength and stability throughout the whole body (often referred to as kinetic chain with throwing), and special care for the arm is to be taken through all seasons of play. What follows will be exercises and stretches that are key to helping provide strength and stability required for throwing.
Opening day is finally here! And while we may not be able to spectate or tailgate like we normally would, we can still root on our favorite teams! Did you know baseball can have lasting effects on our bodies? It is import to understand and appreciate the anatomy involved and how it relates to the most typically experienced injuries during such a repetitive and overhead-dominant sport.
As baseball season begins, Cardinals fans need to ensure that they can cheer on their team in comfort. Do you know the best stretches to keep you, as a fan, “in the game?”
Test your knowledge with these Fredbird stretches!
1. This stretch makes sure that you can check the paper or your phone for the standings every morning without a neck ache.
Answer: C – Levator Scapulae Stretch: Fredbird is stretching his left levator scapulae muscle in his neck by looking at his right hip, and then extending his right arm over his head to provide an additional pull in that direction. For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.
2. Which stretch makes it safer to run to the fridge or the concession stand between innings or pitching changes, as it addresses the “quick” muscles of your lower leg?
Answer: C - Calf Stretch: Fredbird is stretching his right calf in this photo, and holding onto the left field wall for balance. He should feel the stretch in the back of his lower right leg. One key point with this stretch is to do it with shoes on, and to make sure that the back foot is pointing forward for best efficacy. For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.
3. This stretch is important after a double play gets the Cards out of a jam, when tension can rise into your neck and shoulders.
Answer: B - Upper Trap Stretch: We have all been to games that are nail biters, and our neck can pay the price. In this picture, Fredbird is leaning his head to the right, feeling the stretch in his left upper trap. The Athletico physical therapist (PT) in this photo is providing extra help to make sure that Fredbird’s left arm stays relaxed. For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.
4. Which stretch that addresses the front of your thighs is important to make sure you can comfortably get up and down from your seat to do the “wave” or to cheer for a great play?
Answer: A – Quadriceps Stretch: In this photo, Fredbird bends his knee and holds his left ankle. This stretch should be felt in the front of the left thigh. The Athletico PT here is providing help for balance (Fredbird has a bit of a challenge balancing at times, as do most of our feathered friends!). For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.
5. This stretch for the back of the thigh can help you jump out of your seat to celebrate a great play.
Answer: C – Hamstring Stretch: In this photo, Fredbird is lying on his back, with his hip flexed and his knee straight. A gentle stretch should be felt in the back of the thigh. If Fredbird did not have a helper, he could also use a belt or a sheet behind his calf to achieve the same effect. For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.
6. What stretch can help Fredbird “shake his tailfeather” and allow all Cardinal fans to participate when the Athletico Dance Cam appears on the jumbotron?
Answer: B – Piriformis Stretch: In this picture, Fredbird is sitting in the dugout with his right leg crossed over his left. He should feel the stretch in his right hip. To stretch the muscle further, Fredbird could also lean forward from his waist. For maximum effectiveness, this stretch can be performed on each side for three repetitions, holding 30 second each, twice daily.