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Health Blog

Shoulder Maintenance Program for Overhead Throwers

With baseball and softball seasons postponed or canceled this Spring due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is still hope for Summer and Fall Ball seasons. The question for all of you throwers out there is: are you keeping your throwing arm healthy?

Taking an extended break from a regular throwing program could contribute to countless changes in your throwing mechanics. Take for example your arm slot when throwing a ball. Is it staying high as you come over the top of your throw, or is your elbow sinking? This is just one common example of a hitch in your throw that could contribute toward inaccuracy, velocity loss, and could potentially lead to an injury.

If you browse the internet, there are many sources out there for generalized exercise programs for throwing and pitching. These can be great resources, however many of them overlook important regions of the body that are key to protecting the shoulder. The purpose of this blog is to present you with exercise routines for throwing and encourage you to consider what areas you need to address to maintain a healthy shoulder.

A few important areas that require maintenance work for the overhead throwing athlete would include:

  • Hip Strength and Mobility
  • Lumbar and Thoracic Spine Mobility
  • Scapular Strength and Coordination
  • Shoulder Mobility and Strength
  • Elbow strength

Program: The Two-Out Drill

As pitchers throw throughout a game, the shoulder actually tightens up and reduces mobility. By doing the Two-Out Drill between innings, a pitcher can help maintain their shoulder or trunk mobility to potentially lower the risk of injury. This principle is not just important for in-game performance but also highlights the importance of maintaining good trunk and shoulder mobility in the off-season. This program addresses shoulder, elbow, and thoracic mobility. I highly recommend making this a regular routine for throwers during the offseason to help maintain the proper mobility for their throwing motion.

Here are some other examples of exercises that would benefit throwers:

Open book

 

Foam Roller Chest Fly

Program: The Thrower’s 10 

Various exercise programs address the body regions listed above, however, they are not all integrated and typically address just a few of these different areas. For example, the Thrower’s 10 exercise routine primarily addresses shoulder and arm strength, but there are not exercises that sufficiently challenge a player’s hips or spine. These regions are extremely important for dispersing forces from the shoulder, particularly during the follow-through. 

Here are a couple of exercises I would recommend to add to the thrower’s 10 routines to work on hip and back strength: 

Single-Leg RDL 

 

Plank Hand Touches 

 

Bird Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintaining a healthy throwing shoulder also requires maintaining a regular throwing program. When it is okay to do so, grabbing a teammate or family member to play catch may be the best way to keep your shoulder ready for play this summer and fall. As always, don’t push through pain or discomfort. If there seems to be a hitch in your shoulder, a good place to start are the programs listed in this blog. If you need additional help or guidance, get in contact with your physical therapist to set up an individualized program for you. 

If you need additional guidance on how to prepare for your baseball season or are experiencing any pain while throwing, you might benefit from an assessment by a licensed Physical Therapist. Contact your closest MTI Physical Therapy clinic today to schedule an appointment.

Best of luck this spring, summer, and fall. These are difficult times and I can safely say we all are looking forward to an Opening Day at some point this year. 


Eric Ninomiya, PT, DPT, OMT joined MTI Physical Therapy’s Kirkland Clinic team in 2017. He grew up in Woodinville and was excited to return to the Pacific Northwest after completing his Doctor in Physical Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Eric was a multi-sport athlete through high school and college playing football and baseball. He is passionate about educating clients and athletes on injury prevention and performance. If you have any questions or would like a professional recommendation, you can reach Eric at ericninomiya@mtipt.com.

 

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