Movement Prep for the Overhead Athlete

With the start of spring training a few weeks away and baseball season just around the corner, we thought it would be beneficial to start our throwing athlete movement prep series. Each week over the next few weeks, we will go over some of our favorite methods to fully activate the entire kinetic chain for a throwing athlete. This group of exercises, though comprehensive, can be performed in 10 minutes and is recommended to be performed prior to any throwing.

Over the next 4 posts, we will cover ways to perform self myofascial release to keep your soft tissue health optimal. We will also cover mobility drills to maintain and increase thoracic spine and hip mobility. The third post will cover the concept of diaphragmatic breathing and how it relates to rotational sports. Finally, the last week will cover kinetic chain activation exercises that will activate the proper firing sequence for a throwing athlete.

Self Myofascial Release

Fifteen years ago, when I first started my journey into sports medicine, self myofascial release was not even a thing. A few sports medicine clinicians were beginning to understand the importance of myofascial release but it was not mainstream by any means. The word “fascia” was only used by anatomists and the only thing they really knew about it was that it was this white sticky stuff covering up the muscles. Fast forward 15 years and the word fascia is apart of our daily sports medicine treatment. Our understanding is completely different now and we know that fascia plays an integral role in how we move and perform. If you have ever been treated by our clinicians, you know the profound affect fascia plays on the body.

In overhead athletes specifically, we find that certain muscles (and myofascia), due to the nature of the sport, become tight and restricted. We also know clinically that when these are treated with myofascial release techniques pain diminishes immediately after treatment. These muscles include the pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, posterior rotator cuff, upper trapezius and supraspinatus. There are several other muscles involved, but when released, these muscles have profound affects on shoulder health.

The throwing motion requires an extreme amount of force production and stability of the shoulder. Maximal shoulder velocity has been recorded at 7500-7700 degrees per second! This amount of force happens in 0.145 seconds! In that short moment, your shoulder needs to have the requisite range of motion, create a significant amount of force, and properly stabilize the shoulder. It should become very apparent that throwing places the shoulder at an extreme risk for injury.

Self myofascial release plays a huge role for any maintenance or movement prep routine. Daily use of self myofascial release helps maintain tissue health and continues to promote adequate range of motion for throwing. This program will help minimize tightness, discomfort, and soreness that comes with throwing. You should only spend about 30-45s on each tissue. Typically, active movement promotes a better release and is recommended over static pressure.

Watch the videos below and give it try. Let us know how you feel after these self myofascial release techniques. Stay tuned for next week’s post about thoracic spine and hip mobility.

Go Tribe!

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