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Shoulder Flexibility for Throwing Sports

Having tight shoulders is never fun to play sports with. They seem to take forever to warm up, they are hard to use, and they seem to always get injured. Loosening them up in the right places can help fix any issues you may be having and bring about more pleasurable sports activities.

We don't just want to randomly stretch shoulder muscles Click To Tweet

They key here is becoming flexible, like I said, in the right places. We don’t just want to randomly stretch shoulder muscles because we could be doing more harm than good. Some of you may have tight shoulders all around, but most of you will have an imbalance in your muscles. I’m sure you have heard this before so I won’t go in detail, but basically our lifestyles are to blame for this. We sit too often, hunched over, which in return screws up our bodies. Our upper back becomes over-stretched and our chest becomes super tight. Thus, imbalanced.
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Before I get into the stretches and fixes, I will give a little of advice. If you sit at a computer for long periods of times, or even for not so long periods of times, I would recommend getting a standing desk. Standing while on the computer can do wonders for you and help fix your posture, which I will be writing an article on soon. They (whoever “they” is) are now making standing desks to fix this problem. Here is a cheaper one with a crank handle.

And here is my high recommendation, the deluxe version, which has an electric motor.

 

Be sure to warm up before stretching and exercising.

Stretches:

 

Hand Raises Against a Wall

Put your back against a wall with arms at a 90 degree angle, facing up. Your butt should be touching the wall, and do not over-arch your back. Raise your arms up against the wall, hold at the top for a few seconds, and come back down. You should be doing this for about a minute, and then the last rep you should hold for 30 seconds.

Clasped Hands Extension

Sit crisscross on the floor with your back straight up. Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your elbows. Slowly move your hands upwards. Your shoulder blades should be squeezing together the further your hands go up.

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is one of the most common torn muscle in the shoulder. With a lot our shoulders somewhat out of place, our rotator cuff goes through motions that it really shouldn’t be going through. We need to be sure that it is loose and isn’t going to be damaged in our throwing motion.

 

Exercises:

 

So like I said earlier, we are not trying to become more flexible. Our goal is to become balanced. We have already talked about how to stretch out the tight muscles, but now we must tighten up/strengthen our “loose” or long muscles.

Push-up Plus

If you have never heard of these, you are missing out big time. I would almost recommend to scrap normal push-ups alone and put these in their place. It is so simple, yet so difficult at the same time. If you are doing these right, your push-ups should become much more difficult.

Start in push-up position, and go down and come back up like a a regular push-up. At the top of the movement, you add in an extra push from the shoulders. You should push down so your shoulders are now rounded at the top. This video shows the top of the movement. If you want, you can just do the top of the movement, but whichever way you choose, be sure to get a full extension at the top.

Dip Plus

This one is similar to the push-up plus. Find a dip bar. Perform a dip. At the top of the movement, extend…well here, just watch the video (skip to 12:45. If you have scapular winging, you may want to watch the whole video).

 

In the end, you really have to get to know your body. Know when and where you are most likely to get injured. Know your posture. Know your weaknesses. I can’t really tell every single one of you a single way to fix your flexibility issues. Experiment with some of these and see what is tight and what might need improvement.

 

is flexibility important

The Importance of Flexibility in Our Muscles

We, as athletes, can sometimes go through the motions of just doing whatever our coaches or trainers tell us without really thinking about the why. For the most part, we know that what they are telling us is right…or do we?

If you truly want to be a durable and excellent athlete, you have to learn the why rather than just the what. Some people may have trainers with them constantly, always giving advice. But for most of us, we have to learn all of this stuff on our own. Learning why we do things, like gaining flexibility, will not only help us understand what is happening in our bodies, but also how to do these things better.

Injuries

The first one is an obvious one. Being more flexible, in general, keeps our bodies healthy and away from injury. The idea behind this is that we can perform unimpeded movements through a wider ROM. However, if we are moving through a ROM that we shouldn’t be moving through, it can cause injuries. So what does this mean for us. It means that we need to be smart in our flexibility training.

I am the perfect example of this. I played baseball my whole life. As a young kid, like most others, I didn’t put any work in to the smaller muscles that we use to throw. I just played and didn’t think anything about injuries. As the years went on, the more and more I threw, the more and more flexible the muscles connected to the bottom of the shoulder blade became. Thus creating scapular winging. In this case, my serratus anterior was getting stretched out every time I threw a ball, and I was doing nothing to combat that. No strengthening, therapy, or anything like that. Because of this, my throwing movement was now impeded because of my overstretched muscles. It took over a year of therapy to be able to throw without pain again, and I even had to change my throwing motion. This is how over-flexibility can be a negative.

We can also see this when one side of our body is overworked and the other is not worked at all. I guess you could say that is what happened to me. My upper back was getting stretched out, and my chest  was getting tighter and tighter. We can see this in knee injuries, too. If our quadriceps are overstretched and our hamstrings are super tight, there is lots of times going to be knee pain.

Performance

We see flexibility come into play in sports so often. I cannot think of a sport in which flexibility wouldn’t be helpful. Baseball, tennis, football, volleyball, softball, basketball, and soccer (if you categorize that as a sport…just kidding, I played soccer in high school). Think of it like this. Our full range of motion is more easily achieved if we are flexibility. It makes working out and exercising easier because we don’t have to strain to get to certain positions.

In baseball, we were taught to use our bodies like rubber bands (which I don’t 100% agree with, but that’s not the point). In our swings, if we wind ourselves all the way back in our load, in theory, our bodies will have to snap back towards the ball. Think of how much further back we could get in our load if we are flexible. And in return, we would get a bigger snap back towards the ball.

Stress

Most of the time in workouts (if we’re doing it right), we are pounding our muscles. We are giving them constant stress, which is good. What is even better is to be able to relax them after a strenuous workout. Stretching after a workout is great because our bodies are already warm. Cold muscles have a tough time stretching out, while warm muscles are easier to stretch and relax.

Posture

Flexibility can create balanced out muscle groups, which in return can give us better posture. This is why it is so key to know what we are doing when stretching.

Circulation

Stretching also helps encourage blood flow and circulation in our bodies. This is key to staying healthy and getting nutrients and oxygen spread out through the body.