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.
Training for overhead athletes oftentimes includes performing repetitive overhead activities in order to improve power and strength in their dominant extremity. However, this repetition can lead to overuse injuries, including rotator cuff injuries, labrum tears and ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears.
So, how do you become a good overhead athlete while minimizing the risk for overuse injury? Below are tips to improve performance, up your game and avoid injury!