Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD shares a few solutions for baseball pitchers to help restore range of motion and improve some of the requisite mechanics for throwing. Each mobility exercise should only take about 2 minutes, so you can wrap this whole thing up in ten minutes or less.
1. Anterior Barbell Smash
Consistent throwing often causes the shoulder to develop into a weakened position (shoulder “cheating” forward). This compromised position puts a lot of tissues into untenable situations that is not only mechanically ineffective, but can also lead to elbow injuries. The first mobility exercise in this routine is an easy way to address some of the soft tissue dysfunction and soft tissue restriction that may be limiting your shoulder’s rotation.
- Grab a barbell (or kettlebell or use someone’s foot) and lay it where the bicep meets the shoulder cap to pin the tissues down.
- Your upper arm should be pointing straight out from your body with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle so that your arm is sticking straight up into the air.
- Actively work on your internal rotation by bringing your hand forwards toward the ground. With a normal range of motion you should be able to go about 70 degrees without your shoulder popping off the ground so make that the goal for the exercise.
2. Rotator Cuff/Subscapularis
Throwing can cause the muscles in the armpit region to become very stiff. The subscapularis is one of those muscles that is often affected since it branches from the rotator cuff. The magic of this next mobility exercise is to address the relationship of the subscapularis to the rotator cuff and restore rotation.
- Grab a lacrosse ball and find a location such as a racked barbell or fence
- Put the lacrosse ball in your armpit and use the barbell to dig the lacrosse ball into your subscapularis.
- Work through some different positions such as moving arm back and forth along the bar and shearing and pressing through (check out video around 3 mins in for a better visual).
An important part of being able to rotate thoroughly is maintaining a healthy relationship between the scapula and the rest of the body. In order to maintain a healthy connection, you need to provide some input to the soft tissues between the scapula and spine. This third mobility exercise will help provide the necessary input for the area while also mobilizing the ribs, which sometimes get stiff.
- Take a lacrosse ball and lay down
- Place the ball about halfway down your scapula
- Slide your hand (from the same side as the scapula you are targeting) under your lower back and lay on top of it. The key is the keep your ribcage down.
- Roll around and wobble back and forth on top of the ball while taking massive breaths.
- Take a big breath in, contract your arm into your back, then exhale for 8 seconds and soften.
Check back in soon for part II that focuses on pre and post arm care!
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