Summer baseball has come to an end. With just a few weeks until school starts, now is a great time to begin some off-season training! While baseball may not be the most intense sport, it does take a toll on the body, especially for pitchers. So let's discuss some things you can do to help your arm this off-season, in particular taking care of your shoulder blades.
Why an emphasis on the shoulder blades (the technical term is scapulae)? It is the foundation for proper shoulder movement! Without good scapular movement, overhead athletes cannot perform at their best, not just for baseball, but volleyball, tennis, swimming, etc. Here is why:
The primary joint of the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint, that is the "ball and socket" that allows the majority of the movement. The head of the humerus (aka arm bone) sits into the glenoid fossa (aka the socket) and is held in by tendons from the rotator cuff, ligaments, and the labrum. The glenoid fossa is created by an extension of bone from the scapula, so all of the motion from the gelnohumeral joint is dependent on the scapula being able to create the range of motion. As we raise our arms up, the scapula has to upwardly rotate to allow the humerus to rotate, otherwise the soft tissue in the front of the shoulder will prevent the shoulder from fully flexing.
Let's do this exercise- I want you to try to keep your scapula down as far as you can, and try not to let it move. Then, try to raise your arm overhead. Unless you are hypermobile (which is a different problem in of itself), you probably either feel pain in your shoulder or cannot raise your arm as far as normal. This is why you need mobile scapulae, especially if you constantly use a shoulder for an activity.
So what are some good scapular exercises? There are quite a few, and it also depends on your own quality of scapular motion. But there are some that are great for almost every to perform. Wall slides are a great simple regression to create good motion, demonstrated here by Lee Boyce from Eric Cressey's blog. The landmine press is a great resisted exercise to allow proper motion into the scaps, which you can find on our Instagram page today (hint- follow us! @victotyrsportsrehab).
There is a ton of problems with the scapula we could get into. If you'd like to learn more, make sure you sign up on the Kinstretch page to receive news when our Victory Mobility Academy is launched! Dr. Blake will be going through step by step how your joints should be moving and what you can do to fix it.