If you are around the game of baseball lately you have probably heard the term “arm care” being used or discussed a lot.
In fact, last week, I attended a business meeting in Louisville where I heard the term on numerous occasions throughout the 3 day meeting. A business meeting.
While this meeting didn’t directly have much to do with baseball, I found out quickly how many people in the room had kids that played, or had played themselves. In fact, there was a former NCAA pitcher in attendance and a former NCAA baseball coach as well. The baseball world is vast!
Arm Care is an important thing and I spend a lot of time on it with my own players. I train numerous college, high school and middle school guys, as well as professional pitchers. All of them need “arm care.” The question is, however, what exactly is arm care, and a better question might be…What is good arm care?
Many parents (dads), players and coaches believe that arm care is dealing with the throwing arm only. And some believe that it really only involves the shoulder area. Some…the elbow area.
Proper arm care for the throwing athlete is much more than just focusing on the arm. Proper, or good arm care must involve and take into account numerous other parts of the body (anatomy) while also understanding movement patterns that these athletes go through every day (mechanics.)
To say, or only focus on one or two aspects of the arm, is really missing a HUGE part of the picture.
Really good Arm Care
Proper Mobility in the ankles, hips and thoracic spine area are extremely important when thinking about arm care. If a pitcher, for example, is throwing numerous innings, bullpens etc… and lacks mobility in any of these areas, the stress on the shoulder joint and elbow joint is increased incredibly. In fact, I have helped “relieve” chronic shoulder and elbow pain in pitchers only by working on and improving mobility in these areas.
Throwing a baseball is very stressful on the entire arm normally, and when you increase the burden on the joints (i.e. shoulder and elbow) because the rest of the body is not or cannot do its job properly…disaster is waiting to happen.
For example: Allowing the hips to open in the various directions that are needed, while having the thoracic spine mobile enough to rotate and move as it should and needs will dramatically decrease the stress on the arm.
Leg strength, core strength and upper back (T-Spine area) strength….as well as the rotator cuff strength is important in protecting the arm. Let us not just focus on the “Arm” itself and only the arm.
Having proper leg strength/drive, while allowing the core function at a very high level and do its job, coupled with the strong and properly activated “decelerators” will really go a very long way in keeping the shoulder and elbow joints safe and the player on the field. Besides that, he will improve his performance dramatically! (i.e. Increases in Velocity)
It ALL Matters
As you can hopefully understand now, everything matters. Having great (baseball) mobility in the lower and upper body, while having strength in key areas throughout the body will really help to “Save” the arm and also improve performance.
Doing a few “band exercises” each day only on the arm throwing arm is not going to do the job, and it really isn’t proper “Arm Care.”
It is really imperative for the player, parent and coach to find and participate in a good mobility and strength program throughout the entire year. This is especially true if the player is going to be playing throughout most of the year.
Start seeing arm care as more than just the arm. It goes way beyond that and the guys that know this will always have the advantage!