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06
01
2011
Shoulder IR

3 Great Ways to Increase Shoulder Strength and Flexibility

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Shoulder integrity is vitally important for baseball pitchers and batters alike. Sadly, as Eric Cressey pointed out, there’s plenty of athletes out there doing some terrible stretches for their shoulders with the idea that the looser their arms get, the better.

Forced ER Stretch

Forced ER Stretch

We would never advocate the above stretch unless there was a very specific reason to do so. Oddly enough, we have such a case at our facility – a former professional pitcher who pitched on an Olympic national team with multiple shoulder surgeries has very limited throwing shoulder ER as a result of ¬†those surgeries and a very long layoff from throwing. We’ll use this stretch for him, gradually increasing the intensity, but we won’t use it habitually like many pro guys will. Eric described pro guys getting their shoulders cranked back – imitating that peel-back mechanism – twice per day, every day! This is madness.

Enough digression, though. Let’s go to the list…

#1 – Getting on a good resistance band cycle

Plenty of examples of great resistance band exercises can be found on our YouTube channel, including this tethered resistance band cycle:

It’s important that you use the resistance band cycle appropriately – scale it back during the season, as you don’t want to have a ton of direct rotator cuff work during a competition season. You’re already likely throwing a ton of bullpens, long toss, and pitching in games, so use it sparingly. Getting a light resistance band and using it to warm up and do some scapular pull-aparts is a perfect addition to a pre-game routine.

Light SPRI Band

Light SPRI Band

#2 – Adding Suspension Training for the posterior shoulder

The TRX Suspension Trainer is a great way to add some multiplanar pulling exercises to increase shoulder integrity, strength, and stability. Here’s a sample video of what we often do with it – the reverse fly to pull-apart:

If the TRX is a bit pricey, you can pick up the Jungle Gym suspension trainer and use it much in the same way we do.

#3 – Using Medicine Balls for ballistic training

Any reader of this blog knows that we love medball training at our Seattle-based facility, both in the Elite Baseball Training program and for our sport-agnostic clients through Driveline Athletics. There’s a ton of rotational work that you can do that helps build up ballistic strength in the shoulders without imposing rapid elbow extension forces on your body, such as a simple side scoop toss:

You can also do overhead slams, jumping slams, overspeed variants – tons of great circuits you can do with them at varying weights, speeds, and intensities. Check out our YouTube channel for plenty of examples of medball training, and pick up an 8 pound medball as a great all-purpose training tool:

Valeo 8 lb. Medball

Valeo 8 lb. Medball

Easy, Simple, and Effective

Those training tips above show some basic exercises you can immediately implement to help increase the strength, flexibility, and integrity of your shoulders. These are some of the same exercises we use in our Elite Baseball Training program, so get started today and I’m sure you’ll see the benefits!

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