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One of the biggest problems for all baseball players is the shoulder. Each position (outfielders, pitchers, catchers and infielders) all are susceptible to shoulder injuries. As soon as a baseball player over does it in the weight room or throws too many baseballs without proper rest, the shoulder starts breaking down leading to poor throwing mechanics. Improper throwing mechanics, due to a sore shoulder can also lead to elbow problems. Often the internal and external rotators will become bound and accuracy, as well as throwing velocity, will begin to fade as tightness builds. Generally, the rotator cuff of the shoulder is one of the most common injuries. The shoulder is complex. It is made up of ligaments, tendons, and bones. Baseball players looking to prevent shoulder injuries should begin, or continue using, resistance bands, 5 pound dumbbells, and shoulder stretches to reduce the chances of injury and strengthen the rotator cuff.
The most mobile joints in the body are in the shoulder. Shoulders are ball-and-socket joints and the ball of the shoulder fits loosely into the socket. The farther a baseball player is able to extend the shoulder back in external rotation with no restriction, the better the baseball player will be able to use his arm like a whip. Flexibility is key to preventing injuries and improving throwing velocity. A flexible shoulder will allow the baseball player to transfer all of the energy generated in the leg drive up through the trunk and out the arm. If there is tension, the shoulder may tense up and deplete the energy transfer throughout the body. Pain in the shoulder is the most common complaint from baseball players due to overuse, tightness, and or a muscle imbalance causing poor throwing mechanics. A baseball player, especially a pitcher, is unable to throw with velocity when they develop pain in the arm from tension. A torn rotator cuff takes a long time to heal and can be a career ending injury. Baseball players must work to improve and maintain flexibility in the shoulder to perform at their best.
Towel Stretch: The first stretch in the video is often used to rehabilitate shoulders after surgery. It's great for improving range of motion and flexibility throughout the shoulder. Begin with a Kbands strap, towel, or anything with a little bit of length to it for this stretch. Take the item of choice in one hand and drop it long ways down the middle of the back behind the neck. The arm of choice to stretch will firmly squeeze the other end of the strap behind the middle to lower back. The stretched arm should be internally rotated with the palm facing backwards. Raise the opposite arm above the head to give a deep stretch. When the peak point is reached, lay the strap over the shoulder with the top hand, let the stretched shoulder sag, and exhale. As the shoulder sinks, all the muscles, internal rotator, and external rotators will begin to relax and gain flexibility. When stretching the non-throwing arm, if it goes way beyond the throwing arm then this is an indication of being extremely tense. Generally baseball players are able to get their non-throwing arm higher on the back during this stretch than the throwing arm. This means there is tightness in the throwing arm and work needs to be done to get it loose or there will be problems when throwing. Even when the arm doesn't hurt while doing this exercise this is still an indication of a tight shoulder. Over time the imbalanced muscles in the shoulder will cause poor throwing mechanics and possible pain. If the tightness is left this way, overtime tendonitis could develop. Make sure if the non-throwing arm is looser than the throwing arm to get them even.
Internal Rotation Stretch: Lay down sideways on the throwing arm side. It is key to lie on the throwing arm shoulder to prevent rotating the scapula out and to give an illusion of more flexibility. Refer to the video above for a visual reference. Place the throwing arm straight out and at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to the body. Stay back on the shoulder and rotate in while using the non-throwing hand to press down on the throwing hand. Lower the arm, internally rotating the arm while maintaining the 90 degree angle. Continue rotating until the shoulder begins to feel a pull. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then slowly raise the stretched arm back to the neutral position while the non-stretched arm adds slight resistance. Use a three second count on the way out and be sure to give resistance with the non-throwing arm. As resisting out, get back to approximately a 90 degree position perpendicular to the ground and come back down. Do this sequence about 10 times. Slowly the arm will get loser and loser. Make sure to maintain a flat back with the scapulas resting flat against the back for true flexibility. If the arm is being pushed easily to the floor then most likely the scapula is coming up. Make sure to check the scapula throughout this exercise.
Both of these stretches should be completed 3-4 time per week. Never stretch too much because over-stretching can actually cause problems rather than help. If the arm becomes too loose then throwing and lifting hard on overstretched muscles can cause damage. Always warm up before completing these stretches. These are not natural motions but they are essential to keep the arm healthy from throwing.
The nice thing about shoulder stretching is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. With a simple band or towel the throwing arm can easily be stretched. It is really important to warm up the shoulders and body when preparing to perform in baseball. This is important for outfielders, infielders, pitchers and catchers. Warming up and doing shoulder exercises enable a baseball player to increase range of motion and throwing velocity. Warming up and doing shoulder exercises improves body posture, throwing ability, increases rotation and stability, reduces stress, and improves the blood circulation in the shoulders. In order to throw the fastest pitch or drive the ball from the plate, baseball players need to develop shoulders that can withstand an intense baseball season. Kbands training has a shoulder warm-up video that provides strength and condition training performed with resistance bands and with dumbbells. Kbands training also offers many other baseball videos. We offer a wide range of baseball training videos from the position specific, to increasing speed, and how to run faster. Resistance band training is a great way to improve range, increase momentum, and strengthen the upper and lower body and the core. Kbands training provides insight and exercise specific instructions and videos that are step by step for a baseball player's convenience.
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