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Arm Protection for the Throwing Athlete

by Cary Mendes, DPT

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By this point of spring, baseball season is usually in full swing. This year, however, is different, and nobody knows when it will return. We hope to be back in time for summer leagues, American Legion and the showcase circuits this summer. In the meantime, it’s imperative that baseball players keep their arms in shape, especially with the drastic changes to throwing programs that have already occurred.


Remember that throwing is the epitome of a full kinetic chain movement. It involves every joint, from the big toe to the fingers. Our power comes from our legs and our core, so it's crucial to maintain lower extremity and abdominal strength. It requires great rotational strength through the obliques, as well as single leg stability through the glutes. Optimizing this chain will allow the arm to act like a whip and generate maximum velocity with minimal stress on the shoulder and elbow.


While the legs and the core are the foundation of throwing, we also need to make sure that the end of that whip is as strong as possible in order to protect it from breaking down. This is attained through a series of exercises that target the rotator cuff, scapular muscles, and wrist and elbow muscles, known as the Thrower’s Ten.


In the off-season, perform the following series of exercises: 2 sets x 10 reps, 2-3 times/week.

During the season, perform the following series of exercises: 1 set x 10 reps, 1-2 times/week.


PNF Diagonal D2 Patterns

  1. Extension: Grab the band with your throwing arm overhead and out to the side. Pull the band across your body towards your opposite pocket.

  2. Flexion: Grab the band with your throwing arm across your body starting at your opposite pocket. Pull the band so that your hand ends up overhead and out to the side.



Rotator Cuff Exercises w/ Band

  1. External Rotation w/ Arm at Side: Start with a towel under your arm and elbow bent to 90 degrees. Hand starts at your belly button and pulls band across your body keeping the elbow bent.

  2. Internal Rotation w/ Arm at Side: Start with a towel under your arm and elbow bent to 90 degrees. Hand starts out to the side and pulls in towards your belly button keeping the elbow bent.

  3. External Rotation w/ Shoulder at 90: Start with your arm out the side and elbow bent to 90 degrees and pointing forwards. Rotate the shoulder and pull the band so the hand is pointing directly up towards the ceiling.

  4. Internal Rotation w/ Shoulder at 90: Start with your arm out to the side and elbow bent to 90 and pointing up to the ceiling. Rotate the shoulder and pull band so the hand is pointing forwards.



Shoulder Abduction to 90 Degrees

Start with your arm by your side and raise it out directly to the side until it's parallel to the ground.



Scaption

Start with your arm by your side and raise it forward at a 45 degree angle until it's parallel to the ground.



Sidelying External Rotation

Start lying on your non-dominant side while holding a dumbbell in your throwing hand. Keep a towel between your elbow and trunk on your dominant side. Raise your hand towards the ceiling.



Prone Scapular Exercises

  1. Horizontal Abduction: Start lying on your stomach and bring arm directly out to the side - palm facing down.

  2. Horizontal Abduction w/ External Rotation: Start lying on your stomach and bring arm directly out to the side - thumb towards the ceiling.

  3. Rowing: Raise arm towards your side while bending the elbow.

  4. Rowing w/ External Rotation: Raise arm directly to the side with elbow bent - hand should be facing the ground. Then rotate shoulder so hand is pointing forward.



Press Up

Sit on chair or table with hands at side. Place hands in line with shoulder on edge of chair or table. Push weight into hand and lift your body upward and off the surface.



Push Up

Start in a down position with hands shoulder-width apart. Push your body off the ground so your weight is through your hands and feet.



Elbow Exercises

  1. Biceps Curl: Start with arm by your side and bend your elbow without moving the shoulder - palm facing up.

  2. Triceps Extension: Start with arm overhead with elbow bent and hand behind you. Straighten elbow so that your hand is pointing towards the ceiling.



Wrist Exercises

  1. Extension: With elbow support, start with palm facing down and lift the weight up towards the ceiling.

  2. Flexion: With elbow support, start with palm facing up and lift the weight up towards the ceiling.

  3. Supination: With elbow support, start with the thumb pointing upwards. Slowly lower the weight out to the side so that your palm is facing upwards.

  4. Pronation: With elbow support start with thumb pointing upwards. Slowly lower the weight out towards your belly button so that your palm is facing down.



Please reach out with any questions or to set up an appointment with a physical therapist.

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