Let's face it—if you are a baseball player, there's a good chance you've suffered a shoulder injury. But even if you haven't, now is the time to take preventive action.
External and internal exercises using tubing or bands are not enough to prevent shoulder injuries.
Many baseball players experience pain in the rotator cuff, but the cause of the pain is not the rotator cuff itself. Most rotator cuff injuries could be avoided by addressing issues in the thoracic spine and the scapula. Below, I share how to address the surrounding musculature. I guarantee that if you start to address these issues, your shoulder pain will subside.
Improve the quality of tissue surrounding the shoulder.
Tissue quality can be improved in a few minutes a day with the use of a foam roller, lacrosse ball or baseball. Check out the video below to see how to improve your tissue quality.
Improve the mobility of the thoracic spine.
Most rotator cuff injuries are caused by poor mobility in the thoracic spine. If your thoracic spine lacks adequate mobility, then your scapula will not be in proper position, and this will lead to rotator cuff injuries. The best time to work on t-spine mobility is during your warm-up. Check out the video below to learn how to improve the mobility of the thoracic spine.
Here is a sample warm-up my athletes use to improve their range of motion at the thoracic spine:
Foam Roller — Spend two minutes rolling out upper/middle back
Double Lacrosse Ball Extension [see video above] — 10 total reps
Side Lying Rotational Extension [see video above] — 8 each side
Push-Ups — 15 reps
Push-Ups Plus — 10 reps
Wall Slides — 10 reps
Band Pull Aparts — 25 reps
Dislocators — 10 reps
Improve the stability of the scapula.
Now that we have loosened up the tissue around your rotator cuff and improved the mobility of your thoracic spine, we can focus on stabilizing the scapula. Check out the video below to see how. Perform 2-3 sets for 8 reps. Perform one set before training and two sets following your training session.
Address the upper back.
Ninety percent of baseball players have weakness in their upper backs; therefore, it is essential for players to strengthen their external rotators and other upper back muscles. Watch the video below to see the best exercises for your upper back. Pick one and perform it towards the end of your workout for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Healthy shoulders are the key to a long, successful baseball career. It's important to understand that while pain may be present in an area, the root of the pain is likely in the surrounding musculature or joint. Use the tips above to help bulletproof your shoulders, and keep playing the game you love.
Have you already sustained a season-ending injury? Our Injury Recovery Guide is full of advice and exercises to get your physical health back on track.
Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He will graduate from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.
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