Training a Functional Shoulder

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FUNCTIONAL SHOULDER TRAINING FOR BASEBALL

This time a year is important for baseball players simply because it is the end of a long season. It’s time to put the baseball down and pick up a dumbbell.

That last sentence may be more powerful than you think. If you’re in high school, you are not professional nor an elite level player. All of the stabilizers in your shoulder girdle are probably screaming if you’re still throwing a baseball, especially pitchers.

The word “functional” in this post refers to specificity and carry-over. In a training sense, we move from general to specific as we get closer to the competition season. Since baseball is a VERY long season, sometimes we have to stay within the “specific” realm a little longer than planned.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the entire body, and it undergoes unique stresses when one throws a baseball.

For Part 2 of this “series”, let’s look at what functional shoulder training actually looks like for the baseball player. (For Part 1, click here)


What a Shoulder Looks Like

There are 6 different phases of the throwing motion, and each phase puts unique stresses on the shoulder girdle musculature and its surrounding structures.

The throwing shoulder gets all of its torque from maximal external rotation. Not only does a thrower increase their external rotation as they throw, but they also lose a little bit towards the end of the season.

Pair all of that violent rotation with an unstable base, lack of conditioning, low strength, and poor mechanics, that is an injury waiting to happen.

In an ideal scenario, the supraspinatus shows high activity during the arm cocking phase, which is needed for external rotation. This high amount of external rotation cannot occur without the help from the scapular stabilizers so that the head of the humerus can stay within the socket.

This is known as scapular-humeral rhythm!

During the transitional phase between arm cocking and arm acceleration, the pec major, latissimus dorsi, and serrated anterior fire to bring rotation about the torso.

The only problem is that both the pec major and latissimus dorsi both aid in internal rotation of the shoulder…

This is where muscular imbalances are shown in the throwing motion.

For starters, let’s say the front side of your shoulder is highly more active than your scapular stabilizers.

This means that no matter how hard the rotator cuff tries, it will not be perfectly centered in the middle of the joint, resulting in a less amount of external rotation.

Secondly, your deceleration patterns may be altered as well. If there is not enough space in the joint, then this space will be found somewhere else in the body. Ouch!

Notice WHERE you get sore after you throw. This is probably from altered mechanics due to lack of space in some joints!


Functional Upper-Body Correctives 

Since throwing causes the shoulder to not really internally rotate all that great, and your over developed pecs and lats don’t let your shoulder rotate all that great, let’s try and make it great again!

MOBILIZE the PECS

  • Lax Ball Smash
  • Lax Ball Smash and Externally Rotate
  • T-Spine Foam Roller Breathing Patterns
  • T-Spine Foam Roller Arm Sweeps
  • T-Spine Foam Roller Shoulder Rotations

MOBILIZE the LATS

  • Lax Ball Smash
  • Lax Ball Internally and Externally Rotate
  • T-Spine Bench – Shoulders Protracted
  • T-Spine Bench – Shoulders Retracted

Integrated Mobilizations

Stride Position Pec Stretch and External Rotation

Stride Position Lat Stretch and Torso Rotation

Follow-Through “Corkscrews”

 

Stay Functional,

Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS


Reference

Brumitt, R.J., Meira, E., and Davidson, G. (2005). In-Season functional shoulder training for high school baseball pitchers. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(1), 26-32.


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