In- Season Shoulder Care TipsDate: 4/20/2017
Posted by: John Irwin
In- Season Shoulder Care Tips
By Bill Miller , Head Strenght & Conditioning Coach at Dream Big Athletics
No matter the age, shoulder injuries plague baseball players. At their least severe, they hinder performance and drive young players from playing the game. In worse cases, they can lead to surgeries and months on the shelf. Taking care of the shoulder can lead to a long, healthy season and proper long-term velocity development. Some tips I have for the development of a good shoulder care plan include a proper warm-up, monitoring the number of throws, and the use of band exercises.
1. Warm-Up Routine
A proper warm-up routine is necessary to perform at a high level and keep a healthy arm throughout the season. A proper warm-up will allow for an increase in both body temperature and overall mobility. It gets the body primed to perform! No matter the age, instill the good habits of warming up the entire body first before throwing. Here are some great exercises for a warm-up:
10 to 15 reps each
-Forward Lunge w/ Opposite hand reach
10 to 15 yards each
-Single Leg Bounding (Lay-up Jumps)
Upper Body Warm-Up
10 to 15 reps each
-Small Arm Circles (forward & backward)
-Arm Swings Up & Down
-Arm Swings Across
-Alternating Arm Swings Up & Down
-Elbows High Shoulder Press (Reach all the way up, all the way down to 90 degrees)
10-15 seconds each stretch
-Pull Arm Across Chest
-Pull Elbow Behind Chest
-Lat Stretch (Grasp a pole and lean back with a straight arm)
2. Monitor Your Throws
The IHSA, along with many travel ball leagues have implemented strict pitch count rules. Though this is a step in the right direction, it still leaves a lot of room for the arm to be overused. Overuse leads to shoulder problems and hinders velocoty development. Here are some tips to limit throws and keep arms healthy over the course of a season:
-Structure practices so that positional players will not exceed 20 throws from their position. Focus on footwork and mechanical practice to help limit throws.
-Make sure that pitchers are limited on a strict count in their bullpen work. Focus on mechanical drills to ensure that each throw is at the peak of the pitcher's performance.
-Limit long toss before games. Once or twice a week is fine, but long tossing every day can lead to far too much stress on the arm over a two month period.
3. Use of Bands
J-Bands, Thera-Bands and many other companies have a wide variety of uses for shoulder health. It is important to maintain strength in the upper shoulder muscles to maintain shoulder stability when throwing. Bands can also be a great way to keep a healthy range of motion, or proper scapular mobility. Introducing these exercises on a consistent basis can help to maintain strength and mobility of the shoulder. Here are exercises that can be incorporated into a workout, warm-up, or after a throwing session:
- Perform 8 to 12 reps of the following, facing towards or away from the wall or fence:
-T's or Shoulder Fly's: Start with the hands together and separate horizontally.
-Y's: Start with the hands together and separate vertically on a 45 degree angle (think of the "Y" in the YMCA dance).
-I's: Start with your hands together, raise them vertically straight up overhead.
-Shoulder Press: Start with your hands at your shoulders and press straight up overhead.
-Internal/External Rotation: Start with one hand over your chest, elbow down along your rib cage, slowly rotate the hand outward. Turn around and reverse the movement (pulling the hand inward toward the chest).
-Bow & Arrow: Start with one hand in front of your head, elbow high, pinch back and externally rotate your hand back as if you were pulling an arrow back before being shot.
It is very common for baseball players to come across arm soreness. Ignoring arm soreness can lead to serious problems that can end baseball careers at a young age. Be mindful of how the shoulder is used and build good habits to keep young arms healthy!