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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.

 

My Journey to Find the Best Beverage to Drink as an Athlete – My Findings…

I keep hearing about how bad Powerade really is for me. We as consumers are always shown that Powerade and Gatorade are the best sports drinks and that they are the best fuel replenishers for us as athletes. Well I have finally decided to do some research on this topic. I’ll be looking at what is really in these drinks and how bad or good they really are. I will also do the unthinkable, and compare these sports drinks to soda.

The first drink I will be looking at is a very common and popular soda drank throughout the U.S., Mountain Dew.

Mountain Dew Label

Notice that sugar count. I’m not too worried about the calories or sodium, because obviously a sports drink will have more sodium than pop to replenish our salts.  Carbs don’t bother me either. Now let’s look at Powerade’s label.

Powerade label

This is a 12 oz. (355 ml) bottle, so it is the same size as the Mountain Dew can above. The Mountain Dew bottle had 46 g of sugars, Powerade has 21 g. And note that Powerade bottles are usually bigger than soda cans. A regular size Powerade bottle has 34 g of sugar. Just 12 g less than Mountain Dew. That alone should scare you.

Now remember, the ultimate goal of Powerade is to replenish carbs, vitamins and minerals, and electrolytes. But is drinking all of that sugar really worth it or should we switch to something else. Before we decide (actually I’ll let you decide for yourself), let’s take a look as some other sports drinks.

Gatorade Label

First realize that this is a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade. The other labels were for 12 oz. bottles, so Gatorade does seem to have a bit less sugar than Powerade, but the difference is not by much.

Vitamin Water Label

I think most nutritionists will agree that Vitamin Water is not healthy. Although it does include some vitamins and minerals, there is just too much sugar and sweeteners that are added. These drinks, along with Powerade, Gatorade, and any other “sports drink” are especially bad to drink for non-athletes because of the calorie and carbohydrate intake. Drinking these without fitness activity can cause fat gain.

Aspire label
Aspire Sports Beverage Label

Out of any sports drink, this one might be towards the top of the list. Aspire is a smaller company that has just recently had their sports drink line gain popularity. Sugars are at 8 g, less than half of what is in most other 12 oz. drinks. The downside to this sports drink is that (as I have personally drank some of these during athletic events) they don’t taste very good. Soda is good to drink with a cheeseburger, pizza, or pretty much any time. Powerade tastes not quite as good, but is still drinkable with a good dinner or snack.




The problem is that the drinks, like Aspire, that are more healthy (more like less unhealthy) for us just don’t taste good. So, as a general rule, the more sugar the better the taste. Not in all cases, but in most. So that led me on a journey to find a sports drink that tasted good and that I wouldn’t feel bad about drinking.

What did I find? Not much…

I first looked at protein shakes. They are obviously more popular in the weight room rather than the basketball court or football field, but I am keeping an open mind. I actually found some claims that were contrary to my prior beliefs.

Take this Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein…

Whey Protein Isolate Label Gold Standard
Whey Protein Isolate Gold Standard (Double Rich Chocolate) Label

The first thing that pops out to me (and I’m sure most of you) is the protein: 24 g. The sugar is extremely low, sodium is high (usually good), and everything else seems to check out. What I realized here is that I don’t even usually check the labels on protein powders. The very first thing I do when checking to see if protein powders are healthy or not is the ingredients. I have compiled a list of ingredients you want to stay away from as much as possible:

-Artificial sweeteners
-Gluten
-Glucose, sucralose
-Milk solids/powders
-Soy
-Casein
-Dextrins/Maltodextrin

And actually as I researched more, the more findings I found that a ton of protein in the form of powder isn’t always even the best, or good in general. What we as athletes are looking for in a sports drink (yes, even for weightlifting) is a little bit of protein and a lot of carbohydrates. That was very surprising to me because I was always told that eating carbohydrates before athletic events will lead to the best outcome because it gives us energy.

The fact of the matter is that building muscle is possible without protein. And not to mention, protein powder isn’t something that you will want to be drinking on a regular basis throughout the day. It is usually just a one time thing.

So now we know what not to look for, but what do we want in a sports drink?

No specific ingredients, but a good mix of the following:

-Vitamins
-Minerals
-Protein
-Electrolytes
-Carbohydrates (depending on the circumstance)

PowerBar Recovery Label
PowerBar Recovery

This PowerBar is known to simply taste terrible. It contains 90 calories, three grams or protein, and 10g of sugar in a scoop. It supports muscle recovery and repair, rapid re-hydration, and speeds glycogen restoration. I made my mind up when I found out that it tastes bad.

Muscle Milk
Muscle Milk

Muscle Milk widely known throughout the U.S. and weightlifting community. In fact, it is in most gas stations and convenience stores. However, it contains soy lecithin, maltodextrin, milk protien, and too many artificial flavors and oils.




After searching for hours and hours, I finally found some drinks that tasted at least alright, and were mostly healthy…

Pur Pak - Active Lifestyle Supplement
Pur Pak – Active Lifestyle Supplement

 

Emergen-C Vitamin C Dietary Supplement (click to buy)

 

And the Winner is (which I do drink on a regular basis)…

 

Power Paks – Electrolyte Stamina (click to buy)

I will say that I am still looking for something that I get excited to see no matter the time of day or scenario. The previous are mostly healthy for you, but still don’t have that taste or Powerade, soda, or Gatorade. Who knows, maybe I’ll start producing my own line of drinks some day.