Throwing: It's not just having a strong arm...
Shoulder pain is one of the most frequent complaints that Sports Physiotherapists treat in our overhead and throwing athletes. One of the primary associations with the development of shoulder pain is an increase in throwing volume, speed and or effort in excess of the athletes’ capacity. As Sports Physiotherapists we have a role in not only treating the injury, but also preventing recurrence and improving performance.
In the throwing athlete it has been well established that deficits in shoulder or scapula motion contribute to the development of shoulder pain. However, this is not the only place we need to look. The remainder of the body, or kinetic chain (all the links between the ground and the ball) play a crucial role in our ability to throw efficiently.
In fact, our legs and trunk contribute more than 50% of the power used in throwing or hitting a tennis ball and it is well established that if this isn’t happening the shoulder gets overloaded.
In 2011, a Norwegian group (Saeterbakken et al) investigated the effect of unstable core stability training on throwing velocity in adolescent handball athletes. This involved core stability exercises using slings similar to a TRX and leg exercises on an unstable surface.
Over the course of six weeks, they were able to show that core stability training produced a significant increase in throwing velocity when added to normal training.
The authors proposed a number of explanations for the improvements, but regardless of the exact mechanism they demonstrated that core stability training is a powerful tool and an essential part of rehabilitation in the athlete’s shoulder.
Stronger core can mean improved performance and reduced injury risk which is good for everyone. If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to call. Simon has over 20 years working with all levels of throwing athletes, from recreational level to our Olympians.