The game of baseball is changing at a rapid pace. From rule changes to sport technology, players, coaches, and owners are looking for a way to catch up with the changing times. Although I am a strength coach and love the sport technology we are able to use in the gym, I have recently been intrigued by wearable sport technology.
One product that caught our eye in the past few years was the Motus sleeve: a way to measure load on the arm. This wearable sport technology has revolutionized the game of baseball to ensure that players remain healthy, and even return back to healthy after coming off of an injury. I personally love the Motus sleeve because you can visually see what is going on with your arm (trunk tilt angle, internal rotation velocity, etc.).
However, there must be a product that can allow us to “feel” what is going on. At the end of the day, baseball is all about efficient movement, and feeling that movement. One slip in our mechanics can result in that hanging slider over the plate, swinging and missing at that outside pitch, or just missing that ball over our head that we tried to track down. Strength and conditioning in the game of baseball is beginning to change from a movement aspect so players can feel their body and understand movement. I still think there is more that we can do.
I believe the next product we are going to see come to surface in the game of baseball is the GSuit. What exactly is the GSuit? (click here to go to their website).
Just like the Motus sleeve, it is a type of compression technology, but it covers the entire body. It creates a deep sensory feel of gravity to activate our deep musculature to facilitate better stability and movement quality.
GSuit reached out to me about trying their product. I’m not going to lie, I was super skeptical at first. How could this entire suit change or enhance my movement quality? When I tried it on and moved around for 10 minutes, I got a light feeling in my entire body. It was pretty weird, but it made me feel good.
The GSI technology woven into the suit sends a specific type of neural stimulus to the brain to re-establish a strong connection to the deep musculature. The stronger the GSI, and the more frequent we apply this stimulus to the brain, will eventually create automatic stability and control, in theory.
The human spine has 3 primary curves to assist against gravitational forces and create balance within the body. Any alteration to this spinal curvature will effect movement up and down the chain. For example, there are a lot of samples within the population (baseball players) who will show at least some of the following compensations:
- Forward head posture
- Asymmetrical scapulae
- Rounded shoulders
- Excessive thoracic curve or flat thoracic curve
- Excessive anterior pelvic shift
- Loss of hip internal rotation
- Internally rotated throwing shoulder
The spine also works to create a Anti-Gravity Kinetic Chain. This causes the spine to work as a spring against gravitational forces. There is physiological research in rats showing that when there is no gravitational force on the spine, the anti-gravity muscles begin to weaken and lose their function. Therefore, muscle stiffness is required to create joint stabilization (both above and below that joint), and weight-bearing movement is needed in order to create stabilization of these anti-gravity muscles (This becomes a concept of relative stiffness).
In other words, closed-chain movements (lunges, push-ups, crawls, etc.) is controlled by the sensory input from Gravity.
In human research, the lower limbs were unloaded from gravity and researchers wanted to determine the effect on muscle contraction velocity and joint stability. Interestingly, they found that when gravitational force WAS applied while the contraction of the muscle was repetitive, there was a higher activation of the muscles performing the work. When that gravitational force was removed, the muscles were unable to effectively contract, resulting in a less stable joint.
This research teaches us a few things:
- Weight-bearing exercise is needed to feel the effect of gravity in order to stabilize the spine
- Muscle stiffness is needed to create force
- Isometric contractions can also activate the deep core musculature
The design of the GSuit provides the following:
- Providing an axial load at the top of the skull – which is important for cervical posture and stability during rotation
- Providing a gravitational load to the shoulder girdle (like the status anterior) that assists in lumbar stability
When Astronauts were exposed to a zero-gravity environment for just one week, they experienced low back pain, which was a result from the ineffectiveness of the deep spinal muscles. This finding in itself should automatically tell you that we need loaded movement in order to create stabilization and increase muscle stiffness for higher force production.
For the baseball player, especially pitchers who experience slight joint distraction every time they release a ball from their hand at high velocities, the GSuit could provide a FEEL for correct postural alignment. When we can both SEE and FEEL our movement, the stronger our connections become from the brain to the muscle to create movement.
The suit is designed to provide a compressional force throughout the entire body. Pictured above shows the visual of the connection between the rib cage and the pelvis. This product becomes super helpful for the baseball population because the name of the game is rotation: feeling the relationship between the rib cage and the pelvis.
Here is the way I see the GSuit becoming helpful and the most practical:
- Off-days for pitchers. Especially in the weight room, there should be at least one day dedicated to creating better movement. Getting the shoulder back to where it should be pre-pitching is of the upmost importance
- Rehab in professional baseball. Especially from the shoulder standpoint, the athlete could really feel what proper joint alignment should be like.
- Off-Season training tool. For both pitchers and position players, the compression allows for a greater connection between the brain and the working muscles for rotational exercises, or any specific lift for that matter.