High school baseball season has officially concluded, and the summer club season is underway! Younger and younger ages are playing longer and longer seasons, which leads to more and more strain on the athlete. Most associations have done a good job of implementing pitch counts and other protective measures, but the fact remains that baseball can be tough on the upper extremity. While we have covered it in the past, arm care is a complex topic that requires a complete and thorough strategy for management. In this blog, we are going to go over a simple way to begin your arm maintenance routine!
When beginning an arm maintenance routine, soft tissue work is a nice way to get moving and warm specific muscles up. Our preferred tool of choice is the foam roller, because of their ease of use and low cost. For the shoulder, begin rolling on the lats (short for latissimus dorsi) with big, slow rolls across the full length of the muscle, being sure to hit each side for approximately 60 seconds. After rolling the lats, you can move up into the triceps muscle, again being sure to roll each side for approximately 60 seconds.
Foam rolling is a great tool to create a temporary increase in a joint’s range of motion. After foam rolling, we want to push our joints through a full range of motion to maximize the effectiveness of both the foam rolling and our mobility drills! Baseball requires a ton of rotation through the torso and shoulder, and our favorite drill for upper body rotation is our quadruped thoracic rotation exercise. Getting on all fours, reach one of your arms across your body as far as you comfortably can, curling your wrist back towards yourself. Then pull your arm back through back across your body, and reach your hand towards the ceiling, trying to face your palm towards the ceiling. Perform this drill with each arm, with at least 10 repetitions per side!
After completing the foam rolling and mobility drill, it is time to challenge your upper extremity musculature with a resisted exercise. Bands are a great form of resistance due to how portable they are, you can take them anywhere! For our baseball players we really like what we call a D2 Extension pattern. It relatively mimics the reverse of a throwing motion, allowing us to directly strengthen the muscles that assist with decelerating the shoulder in a throwing motion. Grabbing the band in one hand, secure the opposite end of the band under the opposite foot. Reach your hand across your body as if you were trying to put that hand in the opposite pocket, with your thumb pointing behind you. Begin the movement by bringing your hand back across your body, up towards your shoulder, and turning your hand so your thumb is pointing up all at the same time. Repeat this exercise for 10 repetitions with each hand!
Like we said before, caring for the arm/upper extremity can be complicated. So while we have laid a foundation with this blog, it is important to have a thorough plan that addresses the other aspects of arm care. If the demands of the season do start to add up and begin affecting your arm, we have a variety of ways of helping get you back on track. Schedule an appointment with us to see if we can help!