Posted by Dan Swinscoe
“Telling people to not do things isn’t medical advice”- Mitch Hauschildt, ATC, CSCS
I love this quote. I actually live this quote. I am a physical therapist known for treating baseball players, most of whom have arm injuries. I am amazed at how often they come to see me in a panic in February as they’re preparing for the season and realize pain that was there last summer hasn’t gone away by resting all winter. If your arm hurts at the end of the summer and some medical person’s advice to you is to rest it during the offseason, that person is asking you to waste your off season which is precious time for resolving nagging injuries and improving performance.
Thus the reason for this blog post. Please get treatment for your achy arm after the season ! We don’t need you to be in pain to assess why your had pain. When a full body assessment is performed the source of your issues isn’t hard to find. By the way, its seldom where the pain is located. The pain isn’t the root of your problem. The pain is evidence of your problem. Much of the work to help you won’t even involve your arm. Below are a couple of simple examples.
How’s your balance? If you’re a pitcher, during your wind up you are balancing on just your back leg. If you’re off balance at this time your stride as you come forward could be leading towards the base path instead of the plate. This will either have you throwing across your body or opening up early. Neither are desirable. If you are off balance on your front leg that will change where in space your hand is as you deliver the ball. This will make you off target or force your arm, in a fraction of a second, to move differently so you can still throw to the intended target. Not a recipe for success.
How are those ab’s? I don’t care if they’re visible or not, that is a function of body fat percentage not strength and not function. I care if you can control the relationship between the ribcage and pelvis. As you deliver a throw the forces are wanting your back to bend backward. The stronger the abs the less that happens and the greater the elastic energy will be for you to throw with. If the abs are weak or fatigue while you still pitch then more of the force will have to come from the arm and that will have consequences.
One last point, everybody in baseball seems to be in love with elastic tubing to pull against and do shoulder rotation exercises. They aren’t without value but their popularity exceeds their utility. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that to test we have the person rotate the shoulder against resistance. However, the role of this muscle group isn’t to rotate the shoulder as much as to control and center the ball in the middle of the socket against forces pulling against it. Those tubing exercises don’t do much for that.
Below three examples of simple exercises that will be more valuable to you than the ‘ol tubing IR’s and ER’s
If your car breaks down parking it in the garage wont fix it. Same for your throwing arm. Seek help from a qualified professional. The expected out come should be resumption of comfortable throwing, increased velocity and increased accuracy.