Overhead Athletes, This One is for You

If you’ve ever played a sport that involves significant time spent in the overhead position (baseball, basketball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, etc) you probably know very well that the repetition in these positions can cause issues that can lead to injuries. The facts are that repeated overhead stress and force cause microscopic trauma to the muscles and tendons.

This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Some of the adaptations that occur from repeated overhead exposure lead to increases in performance, and that’s what every overhead athlete is after! However, it’s important to be aware of this, and know the typical changes that are seen over time, so that prevention is the focus – not rehab after a significant injury or surgery.

Here are some of the most common adaptations.

  • External rotation weakness: Think about it. All overhead sports about propelling things FORWARD – not backward. Resistance backward would improve external rotation strength, but this is simply not how overhead sports work. So you lose the strength in this particular group of muscles because they’re not being properly strengthened and conditioned – if you’re not taking the necessary precautions.

  • Excessive external rotation range of motion. This is a byproduct of trying to generate a lot of force forward. And it’s not just pitchers that develop this excessive range. Again, this by itself is not a problem, it’s an evolution. However, if left unchecked, it’ll cause some down range issues.

  • Decreased internal rotation. The total arc of our shoulder ROM doesn’t increase. Something’s gotta give. Often it’s a decrease in internal rotation.

  • Dysfunctional motion of our shoulder blade. This is often overlooked. In an upcoming video we’re going to get into the specifics of this. And we’re going to talk about what can be done to address it, so you stay in the game and perform at your absolute highest level.

Stay tuned on some really important, and basic, exercises you can do to keep yourself out of PT and away from the surgeon’s hands!