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Resistance bands get your muscles loosened up and ready for pitching.
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If you are a baseball pitcher, you've no doubt used resistance band exercises as part of your pre-throwing routine. Resistance band exercises help you activate the two critical components of overhead pitching: arm movement and shoulder stability. Choose a band tension that allows you to move freely and smoothly. Remember, this is not a workout for building strength. The goal is to get your pitching muscles ready for the next stage of your warm-up, such as flat-ground throws, long toss or bullpen work.
Employ a high attachment point for the throwing acceleration and shoulder extension exercises. Raise your arm straight overhead and fasten the band to a fence or post at the level of your extended fingertips.
The scapular punch exercise uses a middle attachment point, level with your elbow when your arm is hanging down naturally. Use the low attachment point for the remaining exercises. With your arm hanging down at your side, fasten the band at the level of your fingertips.
Perform each exercise for 30 repetitions, at a pace of two seconds per rep. The entire routine should take less than 10 minutes.
Warming Up the Kinetic Chain
Your first exercise -- to improve throwing acceleration -- loosens up the throwing muscles along the kinetic chain from your back and shoulder, down to your elbow. Stand facing away from the high attachment point. Raise your arm to shoulder level with your elbow bent 90 degrees into a вЂњgoalpostвЂќ position and rotate your arm externally (up and back) as far as possible. Grasp the band so it is pulling from the back. Move your arm down and across, so it makes a diagonal line across your body. Raise your arm back up and repeat.
The next exercise -- shoulder extension -- activates the shoulder stabilizers in your rear scapula and upper back. Face the high attachment with your arm extended straight overhead and palm facing forward. Grasp the band so it is pulling from the front and extend your arm backwards as far as it will go. Keep your elbow straight. Return your arm back overhead and repeat.
Maximizing Shoulder Movement
The scapular punch exercise provides a warm-up for the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles. For this exercise, attach the band at the middle attachment point. Stand facing away from the attachment point. Bend your elbow, keeping your forearm neutral (thumb on top), and pull your elbow straight back until you feel the muscles in your upper back and scapula pinch together. Grasp the band so it is pulling to the back. Punch your arm forward and toward the center of your body, keeping your forearm neutral throughout the movement. Retract your elbow and repeat.
Prepping for Power
The external rotation and shoulder flexion exercises warm up the muscles used during the cocking (windup) and early phase of your pitching motion. For the external rotation at 90 degrees abduction, stand facing the low attachment point. Raise your arm to shoulder level and bend your elbow to 90 degrees while keeping your forearm horizontal to the ground. From overhead, your bent arm makes an вЂњLвЂќ shape. Grasp the band so it is pulling from the front. Rotate your hand up and back until your bent arm makes a goalpost shape, with your forearm vertical to the ground. Rotate your arm back down and repeat.
To perform shoulder flexion, stand facing away from the low attachment point. Raise your arm straight overhead with your palm facing forward. Grasp the band so it is pulling from the back. Pull your arm down as far as possible, keeping your elbow straight. Raise your arm back up and repeat.
Stabilizing the Shoulder
The throwing deceleration and low scapular row exercises warm up the muscles that stabilize your shoulder during end of the pitching motion and follow through. Stand facing the low attachment point. Hold your arm out in front of you, about 30 degrees below horizontal, with your palm facing down and elbow almost straight. Grasp the band so it is pulling from the front. Pull your arm at an upward angle and back behind your ear, bending your elbow and retracting your scapula. Very slowly return your arm to the starting position, resisting the tension as your elbow straightens and scapula protracts.
For the low scapular row, stand with your arm extended toward the low attachment point and palm facing down. Grasp the band so it is pulling to the front. Retract your elbow back as far as possible, keeping it below shoulder level. You should feel the pinch in your scapula and upper back. Extend your arm and repeat.