Pitching Arm Strength
By Steven Ellis former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
The rotator cuff is a group of 4 small muscles that function to secure the head of the humerus in its socket. These four muscles surround and stabilize the shoulder joint during movement. The rotator cuff muscles work primarily to help prepare the arm for lifting and movement activities. The muscles that make up the rotator cuff are the: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, the Teres Minor and the Subscapularis. The subscapularis muscle of the rotator cuff sits on the front surface of the shoulder blade (the scapula). The supraspinatus, the infraspinatus and the teres minor all sit on the backside of the shoulder blade.
The rotator cuff helps to rotate and spin the arm around in its socket, which is essentially the windmill motion in fastpitch softball. The fastpitch softball pitcher should specifically train to improve the integrity of the shoulder joint. This will ideally prevent debilitating injury due to weakness and overuse. Rotator cuff muscles do not get stronger with weight training unless they are specifically isolated. These muscles should be worked slowly to get the best possible results. When the muscles are strong and well conditioned, they may add speed and power to overhead or pitching activities. It is essential that the rotator cuff muscles be warmed up prior to throwing. A good stretching program combined with a slow, progressive workout is ideal.
If the rotator cuff muscles do become inflamed, they should be treated immediately with rest to get the fastest recovery. Any activity involving over the head motion should be stopped and the athlete should be checked by a qualified trainer or physician. Rehabilitation programs will be prescribed to strengthen the rotator cuff and it is extremely important to adhere to these programs to prevent further damage.
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