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Rules to Preventing Shoulder Related Injuries Due to Over Head Throwing

With Spring nearly in full affect people like you and me want to take advantage of the warmer weather, and what better way to do that then by playing your favorite outdoor sports again? After all, if you are like me, there is no better feeling then grabbing the good ole baseball mitt, shaking off the Cobb webs and playing a little catch. But there are a few important considerations to think about related to your arm health, especially if you haven’t thrown during the winter months. Improper preparation and/or over  use of a weak arm can lead to some serious short and long term injuries.

Whether you are a competitive athlete, parent trying to get your kid ready for a sports season, or just want to have a spring time catch with a buddy, there are a few things one must do to ensure that you are not hurting yourself. Rules to Preventing Shoulder Related Injuries Due to Over Head Throwing dives into 5 important rules that will change the way you feel and perform when throwing over head, whether it is a baseball, football, or even a lacrosse stick.

The first rule is to perform a general warmup that involves the entire body. After all, most of a throwers velocity and strength comes from the lower extremities and core. Before beginning to throw, it is important to perform a general warmup to increase heart rate and stimulate  blood flow to the legs, trunk and shoulders.  The easiest way to accomplish a proper warmup is going for a light jog for at least 5 min or until your body begins to sweat.

Once the body is nice and warm it is vital to focus on hip and shoulder mobility as well as trunk and scapular stability.

A Dynamic warmup is the 2nd rule to follow and is basically a more specific warmup that involves movement patterns and body structures related to the activity about to be performed. In this case with throwing, you would want to wake up the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, scapular stabilizers of the upper back and core muscles in the hips. Examples of theses movements are: Skipping, Crow hops, Shuffles, Windmills, Walking Lunges, Arm Circles, etc.

The 3rd rule to follow is going to be your Graded Throwing. Graded throwing is the act of throwing with the intention to gradually progress distance and velocity of your throws. Start from a short a distance and low velocity, any where from 10 to 30 feet, and slowly increase in increments of 10-30 feet until the ball reaches your partner on a bounce or roll. Each incremental distance should be performed for 10 to 15 throws and should not exceed more than 10 for longer distances. After the peak distance has been reached, start working back to the starting point the same way.

The next rule is one in which most people will break time and time again, however is equally as important as the rest, and that is rule number 4 - The Cool Down. The importance of a cool down is to ensure that the body replenishes with fresh oxygen and removes any waste by-product from the stress imposed on the arm from throwing. The cool down should include a light jog around a track or field once or twice and then stretching of all the major muscle groups of the body.

Last but not least, rule number 5, is Ice and Rest. Icing your shoulder for at least 15 but no more than 20 minutes is beneficial because it will reduce inflammation and promote healing. Protecting your rotator cuffs, bicep, and pecs from over use can help prevent a nagging chronic injury such as tendonitis or impingement syndrome or worst of all, an acute tear. Rest periods are preferably 24 hours between throwing days however, for many competitive young athletes during the season, this is not realistic. This is why implementing proactive strategies are critical to preventing injury and preserving your ability to have fun each time you want to go out a play a game or just some catch in the park.

(Steps Vs. Rules - Skipping Steps is cute BUT breaking Rules is BAD!)

For more information and more in depth explanation into dynamic warmup exercises, graded throwing, and cool down stretches please do not hesitate to contact our Jersey City or Weehawken location to speak with me!

Sincerely here for your health,

Adrian Inhulsen, PTA, CSCS



1 General Warm up

2 Dynamic Warm up

3 Graded Throwing

4 Cool Down

5 Ice and Rest



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