One phenomenon that occurs throughout a single game and over the course of a season for a baseball pitcher is a reduction in their throwing arm range of motion (total arc and internal rotation). Where I work at Champion Physical Therapy in Boston MA they see a ton of pitchers. My boss Mike Reinold, has a saying for these guys. The goal of therapy and exercise is returning the pitcher back to their “normal.”
What that means is that we know that if they’re throwing then they’re most likely tightening up due to the forces associated with throwing. It makes sense, throwing makes the musculature around the shoulder tighten up. With this population we generally spend time with soft tissue work to help regain their lost range of motion and it works pretty well to restore motion.
One of the biggest limitations I see in crossfitters is a lack of overhead mobility. I’m constantly trying to regain lost range of motion with these athletes. Trouble is, I think that some of the movements utilized in their programming is leading to their stiffness.
So the major muscles that can limit our overhead mobility are:
Now what muscles are worked when we’re doing pullups, rowing, pressing and handstand work? The same muscles we just listed. For the competitive athlete they’re fighting a losing mobility battle. The movements they’re training could also be creating stiffness overhead.
So what do we do? We don’t want to stop training. I’ve been recommending athletes add in some foam rolling on days following a tough upper body workout. In my mind this should help mitigate some of the stiffness that is created through exercise, just as in pitchers. Check out the short video below:
It doesn’t have to be very long. I recommend just 5 minutes after you finish up training. I designed the list to hit the muscles that normally take a lot of heat during training. Improve motion, decrease some soreness, I’ll take it.
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The Ultimate Front Rack Mobility Guide
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The Best Manual Techniques to Improve Overhead Mobility