Coach and Athletic Director

February 2017

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32 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 SPORTS MEDICINE SPOTLIGHT caring for athletes Baseball remains an extremely popular sport among youths and adolescents and will likely experience an even greater resurgence following the dramatic 2016 World Series. Baseball, however, also remains a sport that gravitates toward early specialization, and with it, increased risks of injury. Several methods have been proposed to counter overuse injuries in baseball, including recent regulatory changes focused on pitch counts. This passive approach from the athlete's point of view is important, but four easy strength and conditioning exercises can aid an athlete in staying healthy, decreasing risk of injury and improving performance. These four exercises focus on areas often neglected in traditional strengthening programs but are of vital importance as athletes progress in their careers. 1 Cross-body stretch with good posture. Posterior shoulder capsule tightness has been linked to a multitude of problems in throwing athletes, including injuries to the rotator cuff, glenoid labrum, ulnar collateral ligament, ulnar nerve and the biceps tendon. 1 Tightness in this area leads to the shoulder blade moving improperly and usually not being in the right position at the right time, affecting the tissues that move underneath the top of your shoulder. This disrupts the kinetic chain of throwers, since a kink now exists between the energy being transferred up the body and through the arm until ball release. Traditionally, work in this area has focused on long duration static stretches like the "sleeper stretch," deep tissue massage with tools or rolling balls like lacrosse balls, or dynamic warmup exercises. A recent review of four studies shows that the sleeper stretch alone is ineffective on posterior capsule tightness with cross body motion. The authors show support for cross-body stretching in terms of immediate and short-term effects. 2 Another recent group studied the effectiveness of stretching the arm across the chest with and without stabilizing the shoulder blade in place. Using ultrasound machines to look at the muscle's stiffness, they found that stabilizing the shoulder blade in place while performing the stretch significantly improves the flexibility of the tissues being examined, while stretching without stabilization did not produce any tissue changes. 3 2 .Hip flexor stretch. When .done correctly, this can provide significant benefits to injury prevention and performance. To ensure proper technique, one should kneel on a padded mat with their front foot out beyond the front knee. Initially, you can place your hands on your front knees, but eventually the hands can be placed on the hips. Next, perform a pelvic tilt by squeezing your glutes underneath you, helping to stabilize the hips and isolate the effects of the stretch to the hip flexor. To perform the stretch, you should focus on bending the front knee until the shin is vertical and your knee is directly over your toes. If you don't By Corey Dawkins, columnist exercises to prevent BASEBALL INJURIES Failing to prepare the body for baseball activity could lead to debilitating injuries.

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