By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)
Today we’re going to cover Part 2 of this 3 Part Series on Pitchers Strength and Mobility. In Part 1 (please click) we touched on a bit of anatomy of the cuff musculature trying to explain, not only its function, but also to show you which parts of the delivery they are responsible for. We also reviewed some things you can do to help maximize their potential. But like all good relationships it takes two (in this case 5) to tango. So without further ado, here are two of the remaining major players involved in the grand scheme of all things related to throwing gas.
2. Improving Cuff “Firing” Time – As a baseball player, you need the rotator cuff to dynamically stabilize the head of the humerus (arm) so that it stays in the glenoid fossa (socket). Not only do we need them to stabilize the humeral head, we need to work on how quickly they do it. The bottom line is, even if you have strong cuff musculature, if they fire slowly, your arm is still going to impinge and end up like this guy.
Here are some exercises to improve firing time of the cuff.
Great Exercises to Train Firing Time:
(Half Kneeling Shoulder Stabilization)
3. Improving Scapular Stability – If the scapula is not sitting securely on the Thorax (ribcage), then the individual strength of these muscles doesn’t matter. The scapula must be in the right position and provide a strong stable base of support for the rotator cuff muscles to function properly. If not, it’s like trying to shoot a cannon from a canoe.
There are many muscles that have some type of connection with scapular stability; some have a tendency to become tight pulling the scapula out of position causing others to become long and weak, allowing for a displaced scapula.
Tight – These are some common muscles that get tight, requiring them to be treated with manual therapy and/or SMR (LAX ball/foam rolling) to help improve tissue quality:
- Pec Minor
- Teres Major
- Latissimus Dorsi (only some of the fibers attach but it’s a good to work on anyways)
- Upper Traps
- Levator Scapula
(TRX Deep Squat Breathing)
Weak – The following are some common muscles that need to be strengthened.
1. Trapezius – The typical pitcher will lose upward rotation over the course of a season. The Trapezius muscles are a common group that need to be strengthened in order to “re-educate the scapula to upwardly rotate.. They can be divided into an upper, middle and lower portion because the fibers run at different angles and do different actions.
- Upper Portion – upward rotation and elevation (shrugging motion)
- Middle Portion – retraction – pinching your shoulder blades together
- Lower Portion – upward rotation and downward depression
The mid and lower traps are going to be the part of the traps that we are going to focus on the most because they help tilt our scapula posterior-ly as well as external rotation during arm elevation which decreases the chances of a sub-acromial impingement injury.
Exercises for Strengthening the Mid and Lower Traps:
(Band No Money)
(TRX Inv. Row)
2. Serratus Anterior – The Serratus is another muscle that needs strengthening. Its action is to pull the scapula forward and around the rib cage (protract) – basically, pulling your shoulder blades apart. It also holds the scapula against our rib cage allowing better scapulothoracic movement when trying to get over head. If this muscle is weak, we can sometimes see what is referred to as “winging” from the rib cage, creating sub-optimal movement. A great exercise for the strengthening the serratus anterior are forearm wall slides.
(Forearm Wall Slides)
Stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll discuss the last two topics of this series, the t-spine and corrective breathing.
See ya’ in the gym…