Don’t Throw Your Arm Out: How to Prevent Injuries in the Overhead Athlete
It may be freezing cold outside right now, but warmer and brighter days are just around the corner. The arrival of the Spring season brings a variety of sports to athletes of all ages including baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, and volleyball. Although these sports may seem very different, they all have one thing in common: explosive overhead motions of the athlete’s arm. Injuries to the shoulder and elbow are all too common due to the violent and repetitive motion of throwing a baseball or softball, launching a lacrosse ball, and striking a tennis ball or volleyball.
The Spaulding North Shore Sports Medicine Team want to give you the tools to reduce your risk of injury while playing your Spring sport. Most of the shoulder and elbow injuries that overhead athletes suffer are classified as overuse injuries. These types of injuries are highly preventable with proper training methods. Performing the necessary overhead motions of these Spring sports require a unique combination of strength, power, and endurance in the muscles within the whole kinetic chain – from the trunk all the way to the wrist. Strengthening the core, shoulder blade, rotator cuff, upper arm, and forearm is highly effective in preventing injuries in overhead athletes. Improving your strength and endurance will also improve your performance. The trick is that this training needs to happen NOW! A minimum of 4 weeks is required to begin making gains in muscular strength, endurance, and power. Training needs to happen prior to the start of your season, not in the middle of it, so there is no better time than now to get started.
The Thrower’s Ten exercise program is well researched and is designed to improve strength and endurance in all the major muscle groups in your arm. The Spaulding North Shore Sports Medicine Team recommends this exercise program for all overhead athletes to prevent common shoulder and elbow injuries. It is a simple program and requires very basic equipment. Details of the program can be found in the link above. These strengthening exercises should be a part of the offseason training program for all athletes playing baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, or volleyball.
**You should NOT experience any pain during or after performing the exercises. If you do experience pain, you should seek a medical evaluation. **
**This program is NOT designed to treat injuries. If you have an injury, or would like more individualized instruction on preventing injury, please consult a skilled Physical Therapist at one of our Spaulding Outpatient Centers. **