by Melissa Hansen, PT, DPT
In Iowa, baseball players are referred to “The Boys of Summer.” With a 35-40 game schedule in roughly 8 weeks, it is a grind for the players. Players and parents hear the words “Arm Care” and know it is important, but what exactly is it?
A baseball pitcher comes in the dugout after pitching and says, “my arm hurts” after pitching a couple of innings. This is not what coaches, parents or players want so how can players prevent a sore arm? Preventing a sore arm begins with proper warmups. As players warm up, it is not just about throwing and warming up your arm. It needs to be a total body warm up to improve blood flow to all parts of your body. A good arm care program will incorporate mobility and strengthening exercises along with a good warm up.
Hip mobility is very important in baseball players, especially pitchers. Hip external and internal rotation are needed for pitching for proper separation of the hips and shoulder. The thoracic spine mobility is also important to pitching. A pitcher needs to be able to rotate and extend through his thoracic spine during the throwing motion to assist shoulder external rotation and for scapular position. A lack of thoracic rotation can cause stress on anterior shoulder structures that can lead to a sore arm. These are some of the reasons both hip and thoracic mobility exercises should be incorporated into your arm care program.
The next part of an arm care program is the strengthening portion. Scapular stability and control are required to control deceleration of the arm while throwing or pitching. If your scapula is not stabilizing correctly, force will be placed on other arm structures which can cause arm pain. Scapular strengthening and stabilization exercises should be part of your arm care program.
J Band programs are good for strengthening the shoulder muscles, but these exercises should be done slowly and correctly to be effective. Incorporating a core strengthening program is also very important to a complete arm care program. Increasing your core strength can increase your velocity without straining shoulder structures.
Communication with your coaches is another key to arm care. Let them know if your arm is sore, tight or tired. Begin listening to and feeling your arm so you can communicate well to your coaches. Your communication will help determine what needs to be changed or done to improve your arm health.
Every player should have an arm care program that includes mobility and strengthening component. The key is to the program is consistency. A consistent program can prevent injuries and a sore arm!
If you have any questions or are needing assistance with an arm mobility issue please reach out to us online or at 866-588-0230.
*images from MedBridge