What is the number one way to eliminate baseball related shoulder and elbow soreness in the shortest amount of time? Eccentric training.
Eccentric training is the use of eccentric contractions. An eccentric contraction is the elongation of a muscle while it’s still contracting. Think “negatives” in the gym. This picture briefly describes it:
Training specific areas of your body to have great eccentric strength is the key to avoiding injury. Why? Because most all injuries that happen to pitchers or anyone that throws (I use pitchers because they throw 7x more than the average overhead athlete), occur when the muscles surrounding a joint work eccentrically; specifically in the late cocking through the follow-thru phases.
For example, in the late cocking phase of throwing, the biceps is contracting eccentrically to dynamically stabilize the humeral head in the glenoid (specifically the long head of the biceps). The biceps is further stressed eccentrically in the follow-thru phase, as it is required to control rapid elbow extension. Have you ever had posterior or lateral elbow pain during or after throwing? If so, your biceps wasn’t doing it’s job. Did your pain go away after taking some time off? No worries, your pain will likely return if you do nothing. D’oh! Did your rehab include simple band and lightweights in a concentric fashion? Ey yai yai!
Rotator cuff pain? The posterior portion of the rotator cuff is responsible for decelerating the arm immediately after the ball has been released from your hand. It decelerates your arm via an eccentric contraction. Most coaches and under-knowledged medical professionals will just have you do simple tubing or band exercises that work the shoulder concentrically and include a mixture of isometric holds, too. While I’m sure this is meant with the best intentions, it’s not going to train your body in the way it’s used during baseball, or any overhead/throwing sport.
The stronger your shoulder and elbow are, eccentrically, the less soreness you will have during throwing, after throwing and the less chance you will become injured. It’s as simple as that. Who can do eccentric training?….everyone….all ages! I’m warning you: You will get more sore when you do this the first time. Twenty-four hours later will be bad, and 48hrs later will be brutal. Don’t worry; it gets better the more you do it. What body parts should you focus on with eccentric training? Stick to the biceps/brachialis, and posterior rotator cuff to get the most bang for your buck.
Here is one sample of an exercise you can do to promote eccentric strength at the shoulder. I recently re-named it the Destroyer2:
In the first week, I recommend doing the Destroyer2 only 1 time, then in the 2nd week you can do it 2x per week. Two sets of 12 should suffice for newbies to eccentric training at the shoulder and elbow. Lower the weight/resistance over 7-10 seconds. You can do eccentric training in every season of the game, so there should be no excuses for not doing them. If they cause you excessive pain after week 2, stop them and consult a qualified physical therapist to look at you.
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