Determining Individual Needs for Baseball Players
I was having a conversation with one of my players the other day about his body. He’s been having trouble with his front shoulder “popping out” whenever he finishes a swing, and it’s happened multiple times throughout his high school season. He continued to tell me that his school trainer and the orthopedic said that he shouldn’t be stretching at all because that is only going to hurt him. I continued to say, “I couldn’t agree more”.
I then get looked at like I have 2 heads. SO, rather than writing the dialogue of this conversation I was having, it gave me the idea to write a post on this concept of mobility and stability needs in the baseball population.
The Laxity Test
The Laxity Test is a great tool to use to determine if someone is loose-jointed or not. The only other tool you need is your eyes, making it super simple to administer.
More specifically, it is commonly known as the “Beighton Score”. The only disadvantage of using this test is that the “scores” are not quantifiable. It is either a yes or no.
The tests are used bilaterally (both sides of the body) totaling for a score out of 9. Let’s go over them one by one (with pictures of all the tests listed below from physio-pedia.com).
- Passive hyperextension of the 5th MCP joint beyond 90*
In other words, this is when the pinky is able to reach vertical when the palm is flat on the ground.
- Passive opposition of the thumb to the forearm
In other words, this is when the thumb is able to be pulled towards the inner aspect of the forearm.
- Passive hyperextension of the elbow beyond 10*
In other words, this is when the elbow extends outward from the body and the hand is slightly below the line of the elbow.
- Passive hyperextension of the knee beyond 10*
In other words, this is when the knee extends behind the body and is behind the line of the hip.
- Active forward flexion of the trunk with the knees fully extended so that the palms rest flat on the ground
Previous researchers have determined that a score between 4-9 shows that the individual has ligamentous laxity within the joints, while other researchers determined a 3/9 to be the case, and other researchers determined a 6/9 to be the case (physiology-pedia.com)
Basically, no one can agree on anything! My personal opinion is to use your own judgement. Ask a lot of questions with the athlete. When I perform evaluations with my athletes at Infiniti Sports Performance and I pick up some laxity in their joints, I then begin to ask these questions:
- Do you find that you don’t have the need to stretch a lot before a game?
- Are both of your parents flexible? Mother? Father?
- Do you mostly feel “tight” or “loose” before a game?
Believe it or not, since the ligaments are part of the muscular system, general ligamentous laxity (GLL) is highly genetic!
In a study investigating the relationship of GLL with acute and chronic shoulder injuries with athletes, the results showed that those with GLL had higher incidences of shoulder pain, chronic shoulder injuries, and shoulder instability in comparison to those who did not have GLL (1).
In order to keep the individual athlete healthy and on the field, it’s important to determine where they fit on this mobility vs stability spectrum.
For those with GLL, you must be EXTRA strict on keeping your shoulder healthy and stable. Adding more shoulder stability exercises into your arsenal and performing some band work before a game might be the missing piece that keeps you on the field longer!
Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS
Saremi, H., Yavarikia, A., and Jafari, N. (2016). Generalized Ligamentous Laxity: An Important Predisposing Factor for Shoulder Injuries in Athletes. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.