Why write a column about baseball when the season is winding down? Well, baseball is NOT over yet! In fact, the season is just getting exciting as the playoffs are just around the corner. Also, for those not playing in the big leagues, “fall ball” and travel league is just getting under way. AND, by the way, the off season is the best time to work on specific conditioning…so stay fit and play safe!
In baseball, pitchers often receive all the notoriety and attention. Their shoulders are treated with tremendous care and attention…warm-up, pitch counts, protection and warmth in between innings, and cool-down with days of rest in between games. Catchers, however, who throw at least as many times (usually more) in a game as pitchers, receive much less attention to detail regarding their throwing shoulders. New research has found that, because catchers often throw off balance, the best way to protect a catcher’s shoulder is to strengthen his abdominal core and lower body muscles.
A catcher’s shoulder endures the same torture and torment of training and performance, but research remains limited on prevention of shoulder injuries specific to the position relative to pitchers. Because the majority of throwing injuries occur at the shoulder, conditioning programs typically focus on the shoulder girdle muscles. However, current wisdom from Auburn University researchers suggests shifting the training emphasis to the core and lower body. If the catcher’s lower body cannot support the dynamic movements of his upper body, the weakest link, the shoulder, will be sacrificed.
Most of the game a catcher will throw the ball back to the pitcher without too much velocity. However, as a catcher, throwing is often performed in a squatted or off balance position and creates tremendous stress on the shoulder. Additionally, a catcher must make a quick and ballistic throw to second or third base when a runner attempts to steal the base. Studies show that the stronger the abdominal core and lower body, especially the gluteals, the less likely the player is to develop shoulder injuries.
So, if you are a baseball catcher like Matt Hayes, or any throwing athlete, the best way to improve your skills and prevent shoulder injuries is to concentrate on a core abdominal and gluteal strengthening program:
Front Plank on Bosu Ball:
Once isometric core stability exercises are mastered, you may begin gluteal strengthening
Static Side-Lying Abduction:
Static Squat With Band:
Photo Model: Matthew Hayes, Catcher for Moosic Mets Travel Baseball Team
Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.
NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.
This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in Scranton, PA. He is an associate clinical professor of medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.