Home Posts tagged "Baseball Workout" (Page 4)

Band Work after Pitching?

As you read this, I'm presenting at the Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp in Houston, TX.  As such, it seems fitting to devote today's blog to some pitching content. A question I get pretty often is what I think of light band work for pitchers the day after pitching.  The truth is that I'm pretty apathetic about the use of bands, but I am adamant about the inclusion of post-throwing stretching to regain lost flexibility.  Research from Reinold et al. demonstrated that pitchers lose both elbow extension and shoulder internal rotation range of motion (ROM) over the course of a competitive season, and it's no surprise, given the huge eccentric (deceleration) stress those arms encounter during the throwing motion.  Anecdotally, my experience has been that they also lose hip internal rotation and knee flexion on the front leg.  So, you don't just want to take care of shoulder range of motion; you also want to attend to hip ROM. Here's the side-lying cross-body stretch, one of my favorite self-stretches for improving shoulder internal rotation.  I tend to use it more than the sleeper stretch nowadays because it's generally a lot tougher to butcher the form.  It's important to stabilize the scapula down and back before the cross-body pull.  This should not be an aggressive stretch!  If you are gentle but consistent with it, the ROM will come around in time.

You can find more ways to both identify and address shoulder and hip rotational imbalances in Assess & Correct.

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So, flexibility is a must, but light band work may have a place as well.  There's a lot of muscular damage, and some very light bloodflow work may assist in rotator cuff recovery, as it tends to have a poor blood supply.  I go into more detail on how we train our pitchers after an outing in A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2. For more information, check out Optimal Shoulder Performance.


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Developing Young Pitchers the Safe Way

This is another excellent guest post from Matt Blake. Now that fall sports are beginning to wrap up and the winter training season is upon us, I thought it might be timely to contribute some more information for the youth baseball development community. Recently, I have been running some pitching clinics on the weekends for the 9-12 year old age group - and it got me thinking a lot about the importance of proper development for the youth baseball player.  This is especially true in what has been traditionally considered a "dead period" or off-season for baseball players in the Northeast.


For better or worse, I believe this mentality is beginning to change a lot, as the greater population is forcing players to become more and more specialized at earlier ages. This may not be true across the board, but there are definitely some undertones driving this movement, such as showcases during the December/January months, where players are expected to show up to a workout and light-up a radar gun in order to impress college coaches or scouts. This thought alone might send shivers down Eric's spine and will probably hold its own as a blog topic in the near future. To give you an idea, one study published by Olsen et al (2006) at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, AL actually documented that injured baseball players (requiring elbow or shoulder surgery) went to four times as many showcases as those who were in the healthy control group!


Now, I certainly can't say I think specialization at a young age is a healthy thing with regard to developing baseball players, as there are tremendous demands placed on the body in the act of throwing a baseball overhead.  But at the same time, if players and parents decide that is what they would like to do and it is in the best interest of the kid, there needs to be a safe way to approach development during this time period for this population. When I say this population, I'm speaking to the baseball population as a whole, but when I say a "safe approach," there obviously needs to be some clarification on the intended goals and ambitions of the particular player. Some of the major concerns that I believe need to be addressed before engaging a player in a throwing session include: -How much has this player thrown over the last day/week/month/year? Has he taken any breaks in his development to rest his arm for at least three weeks (at the very minimum)? - Has he complained of arm pain during practice or competition during this period? If so, where was the pain? How often did it occur and to what degree? These are just a few of the important signs and indicators that need to be tracked throughout the year, specialized winter training or not.  The study referenced above by Olsen et al identifies a host of other variables found in the injured population and should be a must read for anyone who is working with amateur baseball players. Now there are obviously a lot of different ways to look at this, so I'll try to explain what I think "proper development" means for players depending on their age range, and the level of performance they desire to reach. This winter alone, I will be aiding the development of pitchers ranging from the professional and collegiate baseball players taking part in Eric's Elite Baseball Development Program all the way down to the 9-12 year old population, where players are trying to figure out how to throw a baseball in the right direction. Obviously, the pro players are extremely specialized and probably have been for awhile. A lot of their development has already occurred and their windows for adaptation are a lot smaller, so we're working more towards preparing them to handle the stress of a 140+ games than we are skill refinement.


On the other end of the spectrum, the 9-12 year olds one might be dealing with are incredibly raw and undeveloped with huge windows of adaptation ahead of them from pure maturation of their bodies to the development of their motor patterns. This time period is huge for kids to begin ironing out the proper motor patterns that they will use to refine their athletic skills in their teen years of development. With this in mind, a substantial amount of throwing might not be in their best interest and maybe getting more athletic in general would be more beneficial in the long term. How can you expect a player to repeat his mechanics with any sense of consistency if he doesn't understand how his body even works? One way that I like to spend time with this type of player is to extend the warm-up and movement training portion of these clinics to really drive home the importance of being in good physical shape.  We also use more group oriented video analysis sessions for the players and parents to point out what common mechanical faults look like in this age group, and what verbal cues the parent might be able to use to help correct when playing catch on their own. I actually find this portion of the clinic to be the most beneficial for all involved, because when you think about it, you only get about 3 to 4 hours with these players in a clinic setting. In order to get the information to settle in for these players, it needs to be constantly reinforced as their mind and bodies continue to develop. This is where mom or dad need to be informed, because they are the ones who will do much of the reinforcing, whether or not they are qualified to teach their son to throw a baseball. The more information they can have at their disposal and the more teaching tools you can give them, the better off they will be at aiding their child's development in the backyard. This is the main reason why Eric and I are holding a FREE clinic this coming Tuesday, Dec 8th at 7pm for parents and coaches in the area, who are interested in learning more about how to prepare and protect the amateur baseball player.  We'll be discussing the current injury epidemic in youth baseball, how it stems from overuse in competition, and what some of the major developmental needs are for the youth baseball player. If you're interested in attending, please RSVP to CresseyPerformance@gmail.com.  Hopefully we'll see some of you there! Matt Blake can be reached at mablak07@gmail.com.


Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 10/9/09

1. Okay, first and foremost, keep an eye out for Monday's blog, where Mike Reinold and I will officially open registration for our one-day, limited enrollment seminar.  I'll have a special discount code in place for my readers to get $30 off the cost of registration for the first week only - but to be very honest, with the small size of the event, I can't imagine that it'll be a full week before it fills up.  Keep an eye on this blog EARLY on Monday morning if you want to reserve your spot. 2.Here's another little teaser for you on the shoulder .  I remember hearing in a seminar last year with Kevin Wilk that scapular retraction increases subacromial space by up to 200%.  Those of you familiar with this stuff should know that the size of the subacromial space is a darn good predictor of shoulder pathology (check out my impingement series, part 1 and part 2 for details).  It's not a large space in the first place, but if you have factors - including bone spurring, a type 3 acromion, or just terrible scapular positioning - you'll run into problems pretty quickly, particularly with overhead movements.


Now, think about the cornerstone of most traditional shoulder rehabilitation programs: rotator cuff strengthening.  Now, while cuff strengthening is obviously super important, it really is only half (at most) of the equation.  The cuff will help to preserve the subacromial space reasonably well because it (when healthy and strong) stabilizes the humeral head (shoulder "ball") in the glenoid fossa (shoulder "socket").  However, if the scapula is excessively protracted, that glenoid fossa won't be in the right place.

What puts the scapula in a good position?  Loads of work for the lower trapezius and serratus anterior - and, further down the chain, improving thoracic spine mobility, core stability, and hip mobility.  The cuff is just the tip of what is a very big iceberg...and that's why we're doing an entire seminar!

3. I'm writing about three blogs early this week because Cressey Performance's Brian St. Pierre is getting married on Saturday.  Those of you who may be in attendance will be able to easily recognize Tony Gentilcore and I thanks to our keen fashion sense:


Kidding aside, Brian is a huge asset to our business, as he brings a unique skill-set to our methodology and is a big hit with all our clients.  We're all really happy for him and his fiancee.  Head on over to his blog and give him some love.

4. On Thursday, I put in some work to update the Baseball Content section of the website.  It basically just compiles all the baseball-related writing I've done in one place.  Check it out!

5. It's playoff time, so you know what that means: time for the wheels to come off for the Yankees (the commentary on this is great).

Have a great weekend!

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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/24/09

1. It's been a crazy week ever since Anna and I got engaged on Sunday.  You never truly realize how many people you know until they all try to email/call/text you at once to say congratulations.  With my cell phone and email inbox going crazy, I kind of felt like Jerry Maguire - minus the whole weird scientology and jumping on Oprah's couch stuff. 2. On Wednesday, I got out to watch two high school games where CP athletes pitched, and then headed to Fenway to watch the Sox beat the Twins.  In Game 1, Weston High Sahil Bloom had a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings before giving up a bloop single, and then Auburn High's Tyler Beede threw six innings. 3. Next week, I'll be publishing the first installment of a collection of nutrition articles from Eric Talmant.  Eric has some very forward-thinking ideas to share, and it'll make a nice weekly addition to EricCressey.com.  Be sure to check them out. 4. I'm getting really excited for this year's Perform Better Summits.  I'll be speaking in Providence, RI and Long Beach, CA (there is also one in Chicago); I'd definitely encourage you to check the events out if you live in that neck of the woods.  My presentations should question the "diagnostic norms" - in much the same way that I did with this week's newsletter. 5. Speaking of newsletters, I got several inquiries after I ran this one about the medicine ball training we do with our pitchers. In particular, folks were curious about the medicine ball we used in drills like this:

The medicine balls in question can be found HERE.

6. I've written quite a bit in the past about how a glenohumeral internal rotation deficit can be one contributing factor (among others) to medial elbow injuries in overhead throwing athletes.  The other day, someone asked me if I had any scientific evidence to support this idea.  The answer would be a resounding YES.

Very simply, if you lack internal rotation, you'll go to the elbow to "regain" that lost range-of-motion.  It's the same reason that ankle mobility deficits can lead to knee pain, and hip mobility deficits can lead to knee and lower back pain.

7. I don't really "get" how this whole Delicious bookmarking thing works, but Jon Boyle (who helps out with the blog) recommended I start sending him recommendations of good stuff I've read.  You can find some of my recommended reading/viewing off to the right-hand side of the page.  If there are books you recommend I check out, by all means, please post suggestions in the comments to these blogs; I'm always looking for new reading material.

Have a great weekend!

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Hip Pain In Athletes: Understanding Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome

Hip pain - particularly of the anterior (front of the hip) variety - is a very common problem in the weight training population.

In her book, Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, Shirley Sahrmann discusses Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome in excellent detail.  And, while it may seem like an obscure diagnosis, it's actually a really common inefficiency we see in a weight training population.

In order to understand this syndrome, you have to appreciate the attachment points and functions of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus.  With the hamstrings, you'll notice that they attach to the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis (with the exception of the short head of the biceps femoris, which attaches on the femur), and then run down to a point inferior to (below) the knee.  In other words, they are a two-joint muscle group.  All of the hamstrings aid in knee flexion, and all but the short head of the biceps femoris also aid in hip extension.

Conversely, the glutes attach on the pelvis and the femur; they're a one-joint muscle - and this is why they can so directly impact hip health.

You see, when the hamstrings extend the hip (imagine the hip motion that happens when one comes out of the bottom of a squat), they do so in a "gross" fashion.  In other words, the entire leg extends.  In the process, there is little control over the movement of the femoral head ("ball" in the "ball-and-socket" hip joint) - and it tends to migrate forward during hip extension, giving you a femoral anterior glide syndrome.  In the process, it can irritate the anterior joint capsule, and this irritation can give a sensation of tightness in the front of the hip.

Fortunately, the glutes can help prevent the problem.  Thanks to their point of attachment on the superior aspect of the femur (closer to the hip), they have more direct control over the femur as it extends on the hip.  As a result, they can posteriorly pull the femoral head during hip extension.  So, in an ideal world, you get effective co-contraction of the hamstrings and glutes as one extends the hip; they are a system of checks and balances on one another.  If you use the hamstrings too much in hip extension, you're just waiting to develop not only femoral anterior glide syndrome, but also hamstrings and adductor magnus (groin) strains and extension-based back pain.

As an aside, this hamstrings/glutes relationship is somewhat analogous to what you see at the shoulder with the subscapularis posteriorly pulling the humeral head as the infraspinatus and teres minor allow it to drift forward.  That's another newsletter altogether, though!

Once the femoral anterior glide issue is in place, the first course of action is to stop aggressively stretching the hip flexors.  While the issue gives a sensation of hip flexor "tightness," in reality, stretching the area only exacerbates the anterior hip pain.  A better bet is to just ditch the stretching for a few days, and instead incorporate extra glute activation work.  Eventually, though, one can reintegrate both static and dynamic hip flexor stretches.

Just as importantly, it's important to identify the causes.  We'll see this issue in runners who have no glute function, but more commonly, I'll see it in a weight training population that doesn't understand how to complete hip extension.  Here's what a hamstrings-dominant hip extension pattern would look like with squatting.

The final portion of hip extension is when the glutes are most active, so it's important to "pop the hips through" at lockout of deadlifts, squats, pull-throughs, and other exercises like these.  In the same squat example, it's really just as simple as standing tall:

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hip issues in athletes, but it's definitely something we see quite a bit. If you'd like to learn more, I'd highly recommend you check out our Functional Stability Training series, particularly the Lower Body and Optimizing Movement editions. They're on sale for 25% off through tonight (Cyber Monday) at midnight.

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Muscle Size vs. Mobility

Q: At what point do you think that muscle size affects one's range of motion? Just interested in your thoughts. I'm a golfer and my  flexibility is important; there isn't much point for me to be really strong but not able to move properly. A: Well, it would be joint- and population-specific. On the joint side of things, as an example, the elbow flexors (biceps, to the lay population) and knee flexors (hamstrings) can restrict elbow and knee flexion, respectively, if they get too big. Or, the pecs may inhibit horizontal adduction ROM. This list goes on and on. I don't feel that simply making a muscle bigger means that you lose range-of-motion in that specific muscle, as the improvements are to cross-sectional area. If this was the case, the elbow flexors would be restricting us in extension, and the pecs would be restricting us in horizontal abduction, but as the examples above show, that's just not happening. Provided that flexibility training is good, and structural balance is prioritized in programming, there is no reason to believe that you can't be big and flexible. Now, it's important to consider the sporting population in question.  A powerlifter isn't going to need as much mobility as, say, a baseball pitcher.  One guy needs to be efficient in a short range of motion, while the other needs to be efficient through a larger range of motion. In pitchers, external rotation ROM is a good predictive factor for velocity.  On top of that, horizontal abduction at stride foot contact is huge, according to the research. So, in order to have good pitching specific ROM, you need to have adequate length of the muscles that internally rotate and horizontally adduct the shoulders.  And, the big muscle that does this is the pectoralis major.  Bench until the cows come home, shorten it up, and then you'll lose that ROM. Now, ask anyone who has ever trained baseball pitchers, and they'll tell you that pitcher gain external rotation over the course of a season simply from throwing.  Guys who don't weight-train properly can certainly impede this velocity-aiding adaptation. This, of course, is an example specific to baseball pitching, and demands would be different for golfers.
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Stuff You Should Read: 4/7/09

This week's recommended reading: LiftStrong - this compilation of writings from dozens of coaches and trainers is fantastic, and I was honored to contribute. Alwyn Cosgrove - a two-time cancer survivor - pulled this great resource together, and all proceeds benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  For a small price, you get over 800 pages of content on a CD, and help out a great cause.


Lay Back to Throw Gas - This one is fitting, in light of all the baseball that's finally being played this week. Lower Back Pain and the Fitness Professional
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Random Friday Thoughts: 3/27/09

1. I'm feeling good.  It was our quietest week of the  year at CP, so I've actually had a few days to get myself a bit organized.  If this pace keeps up, I might even actually get my voice back by the time 2010 rolls around.  I'm sure I'll be sick of the quiet by next week, but the good news is that there is a lot of baseball to watch, and UCONN is still looking good in March Madness.


2. Another reason to smile is that we had two high school sophomores (ages 16) hit 89mph readings on the radar gun outside in cold Massachusetts this week.  The best part is that they weren't "everyone throws 90mph on the internet" readings; they were actually legitimate.  It's going to be a fun spring around it; it's always nice to see guys rewarded for their hard work in the off-season. 3. Morgan Alexander - a member of the 2006 Canadian 4-man Bobsleigh team that finished fourth in the Olympics - is in town to train with me this week.  Yesterday, he and I visited CP client Steph Holland-Brodney's third-grade class at a local elementary school.


On one hand, it fascinated me how brilliant these kids are with respect to working computers; each of them has a laptop at each desk, and they are incredibly proficient.  Then, just as I'm about convinced that the future of America is bright with these kids, autograph time comes.  Obviously, they wanted Morgan's autograph (and he signed a ton), but it never ceases to amaze me that they asked for mine, too.  I signed sneakers, balloons, and note cards - and I'm pretty sure that I devalued them completely (if that's even possible) just with my signature. 4. Anyone who thinks that throwing submarine-style is easier on the arm needs to check out this picture (thanks to Paul Connolly for sending it along).  This is some serious external rotation.


As you can tell, the real change in his throwing posture comes from the hips and trunk, not so much from the arm.  As such, he'll encounter all the same flexibility deficits that regular pitchers experience if they don't take care of their bodies.

5. The folks at Precision Nutrition published a great article about artificial sweeteners, particularly Splenda.  Check it out: Splenda: Is it Safe?

That's all for today.  Have a great weekend, folks!

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A Good Rule of Thumb for Working with Injured Pitchers

If you have a pitcher athlete with good shoulder ROM (normal GIRD and symmetrical total motion), sufficient thoracic spine mobility, good scapular stability, and adequate tissue quality who has rehabbed and long-tossed pain-free, but has shoulder/elbow pain when he gets back on the mound, CHECK THE HIPS! Staying closed and flying open will be your two most common culprits; this cannot be seen in a doctor's office!  Changing lead leg positioning is a quick way to indirectly (and negatively) impact the position of the arm.  Guys who stay closed have to throw across their body, and guys who fly open often have problems with the arm trailing too far behind (out of the scapular plane). For more information, check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD Set. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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Pitchers vs. Quarterbacks vs. Swimmers

Q: I know that you're tops when it comes to keeping baseball guys (especially pitchers) healthy and performing at the top level. How would your approach to training baseball players in general, and pitchers more specifically, differ when working with somewhat similar athletes such as: (a) football quarterbacks (b) swimmers other than backstrokers (c) swimmers specializing in the back stroke I realize there would be obvious differences, especially for C, since that is actually the opposite of pitching, so I'd love to hear some of your general thoughts on this. A: This is actually a great question.  I guess it's one of those things you do subconsciously and then think about after the fact.  I'm assuming you are referring to the shoulder and elbow demands in particular, so I'll start with that. Training football quarterbacks and pitchers would be virtually identical in terms of demands on the hips, ankles, and shoulders.   Anecdotal experience tells me that there would be a higher correlation between hip dysfunction and shoulder/elbow problems in pitchers than in quarterbacks, though. Swimmers would be similar at the shoulder, but I don't see the same kind of correlation b/t hip and shoulder dysfunction.   Obviously, though, issues like scapular stability, thoracic spine range-of-motion, and tissue quality would all be present in all three populations. Backstrokers would have comparable scapular stabilization demands, but different glenohumeral rotation patterns. With them, you assess total shoulder rotation and go from there (this is my strategy with everyone, but it just warrants extra mention in this discussion). Above all, you've got to realize that while you might see trends in different athletic populations, each one is still unique, so assessment tells you what you need to know. For instance, I have a few pro pitchers throwing well over 90mph, and from looking at their shoulders, you'd never know they had ever thrown a baseball in their lives.  At initial testing (i.e., right after the long season ended), the total motion among my eleven pro pitchers from this past off-season ranged from 133 degrees to 186 degrees. The guy with 186 degrees actually had more external rotation (135 degrees) than the least "lax" guy had in total motion!


So, a guy with a 3/4 arm slot is going to have different adaptive changes than a guy who is more over-the-top or sidearm - and you can certainly carry those variations across the board to different throwing styles in football, and the wide variety of shoulders you'll see in a swimming population that might be proficient in more than one stroke. Related Posts: Flexibility Deficits in Pitchers The Truth About Impingement: Part 2


Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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